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13 March 2014 11:08 am ,
Vol. 343 ,
In the shadow of the crisis in Crimea, Ukrainian legislators are weighing a pair of science and education bills that...
Researchers dependent on government funding would face a flat future under the White House's $3.9 trillion budget...
Reservoirs of cells that harbor HIV DNA woven into human chromosomes have become the bane of researchers trying to cure...
Geochemists have now incorporated in their models some details of the way naturally acidic rainwater dissolves rock...
Schizophrenia is a devastating mental disorder that afflicts about 1% of the world's population at one time or another...
Surface tension is a force to be reckoned with, especially if you are small. It enables a water strider to skate along...
- 13 March 2014 11:08 am , Vol. 343 , #6176
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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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