Almonds are the main tree nut crop in the world, generating $21 billion in revenue every year, however growing them can be an expensive business. Typically, growers plant almond tree saplings not knowing if they will grow into trees that produce the sweet domesticated almonds we know and love, or bitter unpalatable wild almonds. An international team of researchers believe they have now found the solution through genetic sequencing.
The researchers from the University of Copenhagen, the University of Espinardo, the Institute of Technologies, and the University of Bari have now sequenced the complete genome of the almond for the first time. By charting the nearly 28,000 genes that make up the almond’s genome, the researchers were able to identify which protein is responsible for regulating the genes that produce the bitter toxin which is present in wild varieties. The toxin, amygdalin, occasionally gets produced by new domestic varieties of almonds, which is a problem for almond growers.
Now that the genome of the almond has been sequenced, this information could help farmers in the future. Currently farmers must wait until their trees start producing fruit before they know if their trees will produce sweet or bitter almonds, but in the future, they may be able to analyze the genome of young saplings from a small leaf sample. This technique would save the almond growers a great deal of time and money, ensuring consumers have access to the sweet almonds they desire.
Source: Scientific American
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