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Japan: Experts develop new method to bear apples within one yearThe new technique was developed by a group led by plant pathology expert Nobuyuki Yoshikawa, a professor at Iwate University’s Agriculture Faculty. The group says the technique will also lead to significant reductions in apple cultivation time and the method is expected to be applied to other fruits. The university has filed for a patent for the technique.
Yoshikawa and his team extracted a non-virulent virus from apples, then planted two separate genes that accelerate and inhibit flowering into the virus. The team then implanted the virus in seedlings shortly after they sprouted.
Apple trees from those seedlings started to flower within 1½ months to three months, bearing fruit within 11 months after the virus transmission.
The seeds taken from those apples germinated normally. According to the researchers, it is possible that part of the gene that inhibits flowering blocks the original gene that controls the apple’s growth.
The method can shorten the cultivation period without modifying the plant’s genetic makeup. The implanted virus has a low chance of transmission to future generations. The method also has no impact on insect life. “By repeating cultivation of apples by this technique, it will be possible to grow several generations of apples in a short period of time,” Yoshikawa said.
Cultivation of wild apples, which are disease-resistant, normally takes a long time. However, the reduced time for cultivation is expected to enable a wider range of varieties.
Masahiko Yamada, a director of the Breeding and Pest Management Division at the National Institute of Fruit Tree Science under the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization, praised the method, saying: “If it is put into practical use, cultivation will be significantly accelerated and it will be possible to use the genes of wild apples. “It could result in the production of a variety of apples that has little need for agricultural chemicals,” he said.
Publication date: 10/7/2013
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