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Greg Martin 02/02/06 Central Asian apple genes
by Greg Martin, click here for bio

Program: Fruit Grower Report
Date: February 02, 2006

A special meeting in early March will gather many of the nations top apple researchers and breeders in Geneva New York. U.S.D.A.s Agricultural Research Station on the Cornell University-Geneva campus will host the meeting addressing several apple genomic, genetic, and breeding issues.

MCPHERSON: The focus on this meeting in Geneva is to look at these genetic resources which are maintained in Geneva in an orchard but are not really being utilized right now by breeders in this country.

Jim McPherson of the Washington State Tree Fruit Research Commission will be on hand for the meeting. And he says the hot bed of activity and discussion will be work by A.R.S. Cornell researcher Phil Forsline on the genetic history of apples and how genes from those original, and wild, varieties located in Central Asia can be applied to current and future breeding of apples for diverse and stronger genetic traits.

MCPHERSON: Breeding programs in New Zealand and Europe have actually utilized the genetic resources that Phil Forsline collected in Kazakhstan, brought back to Geneva, and have sent back to Spain, Germany, New Zealand. Breeders there are using those materials and in this country, we arent. We need to get the breeding programs in the U.S. accessing this valuable germ plasm that Phil has been curating now for about ten years.

And what those genetic resources could provide, according to McPherson, are future apple varieties that could be naturally resistant to diseases like apple scab, or that could have exotic flavorings with hints of banana or pineapple.

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