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Gene codes cracked for chocolate and the wild strawberry

[ 2010-12-28 11:16]     字号 [] [] []  
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Teams of scientists have cracked the genetic codes of the wild strawberry and a certain type of cacao used to make fine chocolate, work that should help breeders develop better varieties of more mainstream crops.

The wild strawberry is closely related to important food crops such as apples, peaches, pears and raspberries, as well as cultivated strawberries, so its gene map will help breeders of these plants to produce new varieties, the researchers said.

"Because farmers have been cross-breeding and hybridizing food crops for centuries to improve traits, they tend to have large complicated genomes, but the wild strawberry's is relatively small so we can get access to all of these useful genes comparatively easily," said Dan Sargent of Britain's Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council Crop Science Initiative, who worked on the project.

In a study published in the journal Nature Genetics on Sunday, Sargent and an international team of researchers found that the wild strawberry genome has around 35,000 genes, about one and a half times the number that humans have, and most of these will also be in cultivated varieties, they said.

"This will accelerate research that will lead to improved crops, particularly commercial strawberries," said Todd Mockler, of Oregon State University, one of the lead researchers on the team in the United States.

"It could lead to fruit that resists pests, smells better, tolerates heat, requires less fertilizer, has a longer shelf life, tastes better or has an improved appearance."

In a separate study in the same journal, French researchers said they had sequenced almost all of the genome for the Criollo variety of the cacao plant, Theobroma cacao - a tropical tree crop used to make chocolate.

The work, which the scientists said found almost 29,000 genes and covered 76 percent of the estimated full genome, should help the genetic improvement of cacao crops.

The group working on the strawberry genes, which involved more than 70 researchers in five continents, sequenced the wild plant's genome by breaking it up into millions of short segments which were sequenced individually and then reassembled.


1) How does ‘cracking’ the gene of the strawberry benefit scientists?

2) How many Genes does the wild strawberry have?

3) How does that compare with the number of genes humans have?


1) helps breeders create new varities

2) 35,000

3) 1.5 times the number


(中国日报网英语点津 Julie 编辑)

Gene codes cracked for chocolate and the wild strawberry

Gene codes cracked for chocolate and the wild strawberry

Todd Balazovic is a reporter for the Metro Section of China Daily. Born in Mineapolis Minnesota in the US, he graduated from Central Michigan University and has worked for the China daily for one year.