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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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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.
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