Biotech Updates

Scientists Sequence Honeycrisp Apple Genome

November 2, 2022

A team of researchers from the United States has sequenced the Honeycrisp apple genome, which provides a valuable resource for understanding the genetic basis of important traits in apples and other tree fruit species, which can be used to enhance breeding efforts.

According to Awais Khan, associate professor in the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell AgriTech and the first and co-corresponding author of the paper in Gigabyte, growing Honeycrisp can be challenging. “Although it has many positive traits, it's one of the most difficult apple cultivars to grow in the production system in orchards; it suffers from many physiological and post-harvest issues," he said.

On their own, Honeycrisp trees have difficulty getting enough nutrients and require a specific nutrient management program for good yields and health, Khan said. Without such management, the trees commonly develop “zonal leaf chlorosis,” where leaves turn yellow and curl due to carbohydrate and nutrient imbalances. Honeycrisp apples are also susceptible to disorders such as bitter pit, due to calcium imbalances, and bitter rot, a fungal infection. Such issues are fundamentally genetically controlled, though improper handling and post-harvest storage can make them worse.

Genetic sequencing technology made it possible to sequence, assemble, and publish the Honeycrisp genome in a short time. Using advanced methods, the Honeycrisp genome covered 97% of all the protein-coding genes. By comparison, the 2010 Golden Delicious genome assembly only covered 68% of the genes.

For more details, read the article in Cornell Chronicle or download the open-access paper in Gigabyte.

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