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Biotech Science

Apple Gene for Red Color Found 180

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the and-blue-and-purple-and-orange dept.
FiReaNGeL writes "Researchers have located the gene that controls the red color of apples — a discovery that may lead to bright new apple varieties. 'The red color in apple skin is the result of anthocyanins, the natural plant compounds responsible for blue and red colours in many flowers and fruits,' says the leader of the CSIRO. By identifying master genes that were activated by light, they were able to pinpoint the gene that controls the formation of anthocyanins in apples. 'As well as giving apples their rosy red hue, anthocyanins are also antioxidants with healthy attributes, giving us plenty of reasons to study how the biochemical pathway leading to apple color is regulated,' researchers said."
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Apple Gene for Red Color Found

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 01, 2006 @01:13AM (#17061480)
    Were going to be seeing Red iPods soon
  • colors (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 01, 2006 @01:14AM (#17061486)
    orange apples incoming

    now apples and oranges shall be COMPARABLE!!!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 01, 2006 @01:16AM (#17061502)
    Now in stores, they'll be able to have Apples in Blueberry, Grape, Lime, Strawberry and Tangerine colours. Oh wait...
  • by mwnyc (1016752) on Friday December 01, 2006 @01:18AM (#17061526) Homepage
    "...the red color of apples [apple.com] -- a discovery that may lead to bright new apple varieties [apple.com]" Yup...looks that way.
  • by blueadept1 (844312) on Friday December 01, 2006 @01:22AM (#17061568)
    Next poll:

    What would you like your apple to look like?
    - Green and red stripes
    - Green and red checkers
    - Black
    -Cowboyneil's ass

    errrr...
  • Oh Crap... (Score:2, Funny)

    by ewl1217 (922107)
    Now we're going to see blue apples... and I thought green ketchup was bad...
  • by nighty5 (615965) on Friday December 01, 2006 @01:28AM (#17061608)
    OK fuckers, I'm prepared to pay extra cash for a Black Apple.

    CSIRO - do you ugliest.

  • Granny Smith apples in this study?

    But seriously, does this mean that we'll soon see makeup products that will make women's lips permanently red? Or perhaps some other useful product that all of North America is just dying to have?

    • by DrMaurer (64120)
      It's called a tattoo.

      Fortunately, fashions change and it's probably not a good idea to tattoo your make-up on.

      Apples, well, they'll still go bad, and so changing their color will probably not hurt anything.

      It's only on the outside, I mean, they already come from greens and yellows to red. Blue will just stand out against the leaves of the trees and be more suseptable to pests and other fun things that eat fruits to live. At least that makes sense in my head; I am not an apple farmer.
      • I thought fruit was bright colored and tasty specifically so it WOULD be eaten by pests, and the seeds deposited along with "fertilizer"...
  • by jpardey (569633) <j_pardey@ h o t m ail.com> on Friday December 01, 2006 @01:33AM (#17061632)
    My family is heavily into organic food, and now that I am out of the house, I still try to eat stuff grown reasonably well, for taste and health reasons. But anyway, back at my old house, there were a number of apple trees in the yard when we moved in. One tree always has apples that look like they are covered in dust. The other trees don't. Blemishes and bumps are common, along with the occasional worm. Nothing in the supermarket, "organic" or otherwise, compares. Firm, not full of water, not ridiculously crispy, and have more of the taste of an apple than any other apple I have tried.

    The way an apple looks matters little to me. Sure, the inability to wipe the dirty appearance off the apples put me off at first, but I now know that a bright red apple will taste more like water than anything else. And now thanks to the discovery of this gene, mega-orchards can grow good looking crops with far less effort, fertilizer, or taste, I would expect.

    Things like this make me consider dropping out of the sciences. Every advancement seems to merely be another opportunity to cut back something else, and get away with less bottom-line. Still, maybe with the extra anti-oxidant thing, it could be worth it.
    • by scattol (577179) on Friday December 01, 2006 @02:26AM (#17062020)
      Apples taste is chiefly controled by their genetics. Essentially, watery and tart apples tend to be early summer apples and crips and sweet ones are late fall varieties. There is, essentially an direct correlation/tradeoff with maturing time and taste. Everything else that the farmer does only affect this a tiny bit. Otherwise they could turn their Melbas into Cortland just by spraying them which simply doesn't happen.

      The weather that year also plays an important role, mainly rainfall and the amount of sun and heat. That's easily demonstrated as the main factor by the simple fact that all the farmers in a region get the same kind of results for a given year (small red apples, big lightly colored ones, fragile things that fall on the ground).

      In fact chemicals are very expensive to an apple grower so you can bet that they try to use them as little as they can.

      That's not to say that they don't spray, they do spray a lot but it's in their best interest to spray as little as possible and many are trying to limit their use of chemicals.

      If there is anything wrong, it's the association in consumer's mind of the red color and ripeness. You can have perfectly sweet and ripe fruits but that aren't all that red. This has lead to variety (like the delicious) that is very red but has no taste. To each his own.

      • Chemicals may be expensive in some cases, but I believe in general chemical fertilizer is cheaper than transporting compost, when crops are grown in large batches. I think "you are what you eat" applies to apples as well as anything, and a bag of chemicals... is not going to taste as good as a bag of composted leaves, windfall, and faecal matter. OK, never mind that analogy.
        • by Minwee (522556)
          No, the analogy is still a good one. Apples covered in chemical pesticides _do_ taste worse than shit.
      • by Reziac (43301) *
        I remember when the best-tasting apple you could get was a Delicious from Yakima, Washington. Precisely the right balance of sweet, tart, firmness, juice, etc. The best ones were a very dark red, almost a purplish-black shade, rather than bright red, and they tended to be irregularly shaped.

        I read an article a while back, about how breeding for marketable appearance and storage tolerance has, by ill chance, bred out the true apple taste and texture, and that the genes for the tasty old-style apple have been
      • by TubeSteak (669689)
        I think the GP is kinda correct.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heirloom_plant [wikipedia.org]

        Before the industrialization of agriculture, a much wider variety of plant foods was grown for human consumption. In modern agriculture in the Industrialized World, most food crops are now grown in large, monocultural plots owned by corporations. In order to maximize consistency, few varieties of each type of crop are grown. These varieties are often selected for their productivity, their ability to withstand the long trips to superm

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I used to live in Brazil and apples there (and other fruits in general) do not look as nearly as good as US ones. Fruits have blemishes, irregular format and shape, etc.

      Then I went to the US and bought some of those impossibly red, glossy and simetrically-shaped apples.

      They tasted like biting on a piece of styrofoam.

      And this goes with most of other produce in US supermarkets.

      Is the average US consumer so shallow that his behaviour actually prevents the one economical superpower of the world from getting act

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by jpardey (569633)
        I went to Mexico, and had a similar experience with bananas. The contrast is pretty incredible to the stringy, styrofoamy things we have here. I have a feeling that only greater profit margins will come of it, and perhaps more kids who hate fruits and vegetables. With any luck, America will collapse under the weight of its own fat, and leave the rest of the world alone in a few years.

        Let he who has had his/her daily share of fruits and vegetables cast the first -1 troll.
        • by Fred_A (10934)

          I went to Mexico, and had a similar experience with bananas. The contrast is pretty incredible to the stringy, styrofoamy things we have here.

          Not to mention that there are several hundred varieties of bananas (same with most fruit or vegetable really).

          Cold storage and ethylene suppressants (or lack thereof when you want to let the mature off the tree) doesn't seem to be the best way to deal with plant byproducts anyway. And eating bananas when you aren't in a banana producing region just doesn't work (no

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by d3ac0n (715594)

            How retarded is that ?

            Not at all really.

            You have to consider that there are very good reasons why food (or anything else, for that matter) is shipped internationally. Cost. It's simply cheaper to expend the time and energy going halfway around the world to get your produce than it is to get it locally. Likely it has alot to do with the fact that the cost of producing the same food in a nearly 3rd world country is significantly less than it is to produce it locally. Also, as many of these countries are n

            • by Fred_A (10934)

              You have to consider that there are very good reasons why food (or anything else, for that matter) is shipped internationally. Cost. It's simply cheaper to expend the time and energy going halfway around the world to get your produce than it is to get it locally.

              That's an interesting theory. It doesn't explain why they are sold for more than the locally grown ones though.

              The major reason is that people are prepared to spend more to get "out of cycle" products even if it means shipping them from the other

            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              by pafrusurewa (524731)
              You do realize that Europe produces way too much food and spends money destroying said food surplus? And that in the EU (and the US for that matter) there are huge subsidies? And that farmers are paid for _not_ producing food?

              I recently read a report in which a farmer in Ghana complained that he can't compete with cheap and imported Dutch onions because of EU subsidies.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Rick17JJ (744063)

      Manipulating the genetics to get redder apples means that color will be even less of an indication of ripeness than it is now. The Delicious variety of apples in the grocery store are always bright red but usually not very good tasting. I once heard that the Delicious apples were bred more for color than taste. If I remember correctly, I also also once read about apples and possibly even salmon being gassed to alter color. Is that correct? I don't know if that is commonly done or not.

      At least here in A

    • Things like this make me consider dropping out of the sciences.

      Science isn't the problem - allowing non-technical coked-up greedy managers control of scientists is.
      • by jpardey (569633)
        Yes, I shouldn't throw out the baby with the bathwater... but it just seems like so much science is now corporate sanctioned. Universities have major sponsors who tend to affect their work, according to an essay "The Prostitution of Academia" by David Suzuki I read once (in an English literature course book I think). Harvard has patents on mice. And even if I was to get into theoretical physics, I'd be sitting behind a computer coding, in all likelyhood. At least for journalism, there are independent papers
  • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Friday December 01, 2006 @01:33AM (#17061634) Homepage Journal
    bright new apple varieties.

    Maybe not. There was just a nobel prize awarded in this area of research. IIRC, the gene expression is regulated by a twisted helix RNA type which prevents overexpression of given genes, and there's some feedback mechanism which causes the chromosomal DNA to stop expressing the mRNA after a while.

    The original studies which started this were botanists trying to make more pink petunias - when they inserted more "pink" genes, the petunias came out white. The prize research was about regulation in c.elegans.

    Botanists and molecular biologists will now shred my analysis. :)
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Reziac (43301) *
      I read somewhere that the wide array of new colours in petunias (which when I was a kid, only came in white, red, pink, and red/white striped) derive from the addition of genes from corn.

      A few years ago I planted a couple random flats of these new-colour'd petunias, and let them crossbreed and reseed however they pleased. The next generation's blooms were strange, to say the least. Some had irregular white blotches; others were delicately shaded, like watercolours that had gotten wet. Many had a crepe or wr
      • Cool - you should breed some of those frost resistant petunias. No chance of surviving up here, but my folks would buy several flats.
        • by Reziac (43301) *
          Unfortunately I lost all of them this past spring, to an unusual plague of voracious ground squirrels and starving attack rabbits :(

          But I had saved some seeds from last year, tho gods know what genes those will express!!

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by jcmurray (975686)

      I'm not an "ordained" molecular biologist, but I'll add to your comments. Bright new apple varieties can be introduced into apples via genetic manipulation at the chromosomal (genomic) DNA level. In organisms, from plants to animals, you can inject (or "transfect") a specific gene into a cell relatively easily. This type of injection can be permanent or temporary. A permanent injection could yield a new apple variety. This is direct genetic manipulation.

      There is another way. The tried-and-true met

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  • by hall_simon (596926) on Friday December 01, 2006 @01:51AM (#17061774)
    Roses are red, Apples are too, I know you colour gene, Now you are blue!
  • Well, I guess that explains this [apple.com].
  • Apple Knowledge (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ari_j (90255) on Friday December 01, 2006 @02:18AM (#17061970)
    I participated in an apple tasting festival a year or so ago, and I only really learned one thing. The uglier the variety of apple, the better it tastes. A perfectly-colored, gargantuan Red Delicious from the store has nearly no flavor whatsoever. By contrast, if you find one that looks like a potato, you are in for a treat.
    • by Reziac (43301) *
      That's true of grapefruit too. The best tasting are the thin-skinned, flattened-shaped, blotchy-coloured ones.

    • Red Delicious apples are disgusting. It's everyone's fault- the public buys them based on color, not sweetness, so the breeders and nurseries propagate the most mutant reddish varieties. They introduce a huge selective pressure for color and isolate the apple from any selective pressure for taste. You can't taste the apples at the store before you decide to buy them, and the breeders know it, so they act in their own short-term interests and breed beautiful red apples with no regard for taste. Over the long
      • by TheLink (130905)
        I heard the Red Delicious apples _used_ to taste good, when the breed first came out.

        We get imported Red Delicious apples here in my country, and I thought calling them "Red Delicious" was a misnomer. It's just like eating sweetened water impregnated styrofoam with maybe a hint of apple flavouring.

        But the worst culprits so far are the normal sized tomatoes. Tasteless tomatoes= yuck. Especially when you know how much flavour a good tomato can have (well maybe because I've never had a chance to have a really
        • by ari_j (90255)
          It's all a matter of marketing. You breed the biggest, best-looking apple you can, call it "Red Delicious" (which admittedly has a ring to it and is very memorable where product names are concerned), and it will jump off the shelves into shoppers' carts. It's almost sad in a way - I had lived over a quarter of my lifespan before I knew what an apple was supposed to taste like. And now I have a hard time finding that experience again. Better to loved and have lost ...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      participated in an apple tasting festival a year or so ago, and I only really learned one thing. The uglier the variety of apple, the better it tastes. A perfectly-colored, gargantuan Red Delicious from the store has nearly no flavor whatsoever. By contrast, if you find one that looks like a potato, you are in for a treat.

      In fact, studies have shown that the redder the apple, the worse it tastes. This along with a decision by growers to select cultivars for appearance and not taste is why Red Delicious i
  • I'm going to rain on their parade. I don't care what the apple looks like. I'd just like to be able to go into the supermarket and buy an apple that's crispy and doesn't present me with a mouth full of watery mush when I bite into it. All their engineering efforts at getting "perfect" apples to market have done is to take away the essential crispness of the fruit. I don't even want to think about what they do to preserve the average grocery-store apple.

    Thankfully we still have farmer's markets and local pi
  • It seems like Apple computer has already used this information to enhance their products... enter the red Apple iPod Nano!

    http://www.apple.com/ipodnano/red/ [apple.com]

  • by soft_guy (534437) on Friday December 01, 2006 @03:06AM (#17062216)
    Slashdot has a definate pro-apple bias!
  • Now I can finally get a Ferrari in true "candy apple red".
  • Ah, I seriously doubt that it was the leader of the CSIRO who announced this - if he announced every discovery he wouldn't have any time to do anything else, given that the CSIRO is a massive government-funded dedicated research agency with over 6500 staff. In fact, from the article:
    "The red colour in apple skin is the result of anthocyanins, the natural plant compounds responsible for blue and red colours in many flowers and fruits," says the leader of the CSIRO Plant Industry research team, Dr Mandy Walke
  • Shoudln't that read Apple iGene?
  • by bky1701 (979071)
    Now we just need to find the color gene in Apple Computers to make them less... white.
  • It's all very well fiddling around with those things, but when they talk about 'better apples' they simply mean apples that will sell better, keep better during transport, require less to grow etc. This is why you can hardly find a good apple in a supermarket - they tend to be hard (so they don't bruise too easily), not too aromatic (since that attracts insects) and shiny so people notice them. Unfortunately they are not very good to eat - leathery flesh and little taste is what you mostly get. All the good
    • I fully agree with you with the only difference that I suspect the lack of taste and aromatics might be partially due to forced growing (and early harvest as well) to get a better crop yield. A fast grown and/or oversized fruit of any kind will usually not have the same amount of taste as a slowly matured one.

      And don't even get me started on tomatos these days. I was on vacation in Yugoslavia before hell broke out there and they did have some wonderful tomatos... but then the serbian word for tomato is "
  • Seriously, they do. Half of the time I think I have a good one, it turns out to be a squishy pile of wet sand in my mouth.

    It's all about the Fugi Apple. Ya, they're kind of red... but not red red. Red Delicious is teh suck. Worst Apple Ever.
  • What happened? It's a story with 'Apple' in the title and there is no FUD [slashdot.org] tag?

    The zealots must be slipping.
  • 'The red color in apple skin is the result of anthocyanins, the natural plant compounds responsible for blue and red colours in many flowers and fruits,' says the leader of the CSIRO.

    How long before we see blue apples?

  • How can you then promote a story which claims that scientists are able to remove the red color from apples? :)
  • Was prepared to see a story about Macintosh.

    [ducks flying shoe]
  • . . . Reality Distortion Fields?
  • They should really name this newly discovered sequence "Bono" — being responsible, as he is, for making Apple's red.

  • >> -- a discovery that may lead to bright new apple varieties

    God I hope not. I'd much rather eat food that hasn't had its genes constructed in a lab.

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