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Crop Biotech Update

Genes for Bitter Taste of Wild Cucumber Revealed

December 3, 2014

Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and University of California Davis, have identified the genes responsible in the bitter taste in wild cucurbits. The bitter taste observed in wild cucurbits is believed to be a defensive mechanism of the cucurbits against predators, while, in Chinese and Indian medicine, it is believed to be a cure in certain ailments such as liver diseases. By specifically examining wild cucumber, genes responsible for this were revealed.

Initial findings revealed nine genes involved in the pathway for cucurbitan C biosynthesis, which produces cucurbitacin. Cucurbitacin is responsible for the bitter taste in wild cucumber. By tracing the pathways involved in this trait, they were able to discover two transcription factors responsible for nine genes' switching on and off, the Bi and Bt. Bi is mainly responsible for the cucurbitacin production in the leaves while Bt is for the fruit. This identification will help in crop breeding through the creation of a more edible cucumber and will be necessary in the field of medicine.

Further details of the story can be read at: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/346/6213/1084.full.