- News Home
5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
- About Us
ScienceShot: The Secret History of the Domesticated Apple
17 May 2012 4:27 pm
Nearly every child has bitten into a crabapple (left) at some point and spit it back out—yuck! But a new study in PLoS Genetics shows that modern supermarket apples (right) are more closely related to crabapples than to other, better-tasting ancient species. Apples originated in Kazakhstan, where they show incredible variety in taste and size, then spread along the Silk Road trading route thousands of years ago. The Romans brought sweet apples from western Asia into Europe (Europeans previously used the fruit for cider), but the domesticated apple's history was murky after that. The new study looked at rapidly evolving DNA regions known as microsatellites in 839 apple samples representing five species ranging from Spain to China. Testing these microsatellites allowed scientists to tease out the impact of recent crossings with wild apples. The researchers confirmed that modern apples were first domesticated from wild Asian apples, but they found that subsequent crosses with European crabapples—possibly selected for disease resistance, hardiness, or other traits—contributed the most DNA to modern domesticated apples. The scientists also found no evidence of genetic bottlenecks—a severe narrowing of genetic diversity—in domesticated apples, a pattern that contrasts with the earliest domesticated crops like barley, millet, and wheat.
See more ScienceShots.