Monday, August 30, 2010

Apple Genome Sequenced

Malus sieversii, native to the mountains of southern Kazakhstan, is the wild ancestor of the domestic apple tree according to the Malus domestica genomic sequence. Perhaps we will be wise enough to save the ancestral species in order to breed better tastier apples. The genomic sequence will now allow plant breeders to fine tune their breeding. They can do it without genetic modification, but it is a tedious process. Sooner or later, the apples you eat will be a genetically engineered crop because genetic engineering is a more exact process since one is only adding a known gene here and there instead of a portion of a chromosome here and there which contains a slew of genes and likely some you don't want along with the one you did want. It's kind of funny that botanists were still arguing over the ancestor to the apple until now. At least that argument is put to rest.

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Hey, moore. I like this post. It's got attitude. Plus, I really like the sentence that starts "Sooner or later..." Long as it is, it just works really well. Did it just come out like that? Or was it a struggle?

Art
 
It pretty much just came out. The only struggle was making the description accurate while keeping it simple enough so that any layman could understand. I decided to use a "portion of the chromosome etc ..." because with traditional breeding you are depending upon chromosomal recombination (a genetic cross) to give you your gene. While it's natural, it's also messy and you have to perform thousands of crosses to get it just right because what you are doing is selecting for rare events. The problem with the natural method besides it being time consuming is that it is not precise. You generally get more than one gene in the cross. It's easy to do this for say bacteria because you are working with billions of bacteria or yeast at a time, but with plants, you are limited by how much seed you can plant and grow.
 
Hi John

I must say that Art's love of "Sooner and later..." is curious, though not captivating.

I find apples a bit acidy for happy digestion - being a pear man myself.

Pete
 
Pete,

It's difficult for scientists to write articles intended for the lay audience. Difficult, but not impossible. You can likely count the number of living and dead scientific authors on both hands though. Four who come to mind are Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Carl Sagan, and Steven J. Gould, and they are now deceased. One could argue that Clarke was more of a science fiction author, but he did more to inspire future scientists through his science educational TV shows and his fiction than many scientists.

Alas, the war on ignorance is being lost as we speak however. People would rather prefer to be ignorant than educated and learned. There are some people who are gifted with intelligence even if they aren't schooled, but those people are rare. There are far more who are educated and schooled who quickly forget everything they learned, or who never learned anything at all in college. Worse still, are those who retain their educations, but use their knowledge to lie and cheat to get ahead at any cost.
 
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