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CAHNRS Department of Horticulture Genomics Lab

A New Slice out of the Apple

Rock Doc column March 2, 2011.

I often eat without thinking, either while listening to the news or writing. It’s a poor habit for several reasons, one of which is my ever-growing waistline.

But the next time you bite into an apple, I implore you to take just a moment to really savor its taste, aroma, and texture. Those characteristics vary a lot between a Granny Smith and a Golden Delicious, or a McIntosh and a Braeburn. The variation is one reason apples are a delight.

Apples come from an ancestor tree that had small and acidic fruit. We don’t know exactly how it was that people coaxed substantial improvement out of acid apples, but around 2000 B.C. people produced sweet apple stock. That was also when they began grafting branches from one tree onto another, a clever idea if ever there was one. Much later the Romans, who knew a good thing when they saw it, spread the sweet apple and grafting technology to many lands.

Now skip with me up to the present, because there’s some big news about apples. In the parlance of biologists, the full genome of the apple has recently been described. Read the full article by Dr. Kirsten Peters at CAHNRS News.

Genomicists Reach Out to Public at Annual Event in Seattle

by Brian Clark, CAHNRS Marketing & News Services

When horticultural genomicist Amit Dhingra and members of his lab participated in the annual Life Sciences Research Weekend in Seattle last November, they hoped to change and expand the public perception of their genomics research.

And they did. But as they interacted with members of the public, the scientists from WSU found they were being changed as well. » More …

Future Grape

Amit DhingraWSU’s Voice of the Vine article by Brian Clark

How many merlots can you make? At some point, speculates Amit Dhingra, consumers are going to want something different.

Dhingra is a horticultural genomicist at Washington State University. His research focuses on sequencing genomes and then taking that information to produce better fruit. He recently told Voice of the Vine that “as tastes change, I think there will be more wines filling specific niches. People always want something new.” Read the rest of the article in the Voice of the Vine archive.

Designing the Perfect, Personalized Apple

You’ve heard about the Human Genome Project, but what about the Apple Genome Project? Mapping the apple genome is a project of scientists here at Washington State University working with collaborators around the world. They’re helping orchardists come up with new varieties that require fewer inputs (such as pesticides and fertilizers) and produce more nutritious fruit. KPLU science and health reporter Keith Seinfeld recently met with Amit Dhingra, one of the leaders of the project. Listen to the KPLU News 88.5 broadcast here.

WSU scientist unraveling the genetics of apples

Amit Dhingra is an unlikely champion of the state’s $2 billion apple industry.

The scientist from New Delhi, with his white lab coat, doesn’t fit the mold of a fruit-tree farmer. But in less than two years at Washington State University, Dhingra’s quest to build a better apple has captured the industry’s imagination. Read the article by Clay Holtzman on the Puget Sound Business Journal website.

Intlli-GEN-Design

In 2008, horticultural genomicist Amit Dhingra gave a WSU Innovators talk in downtown Seattle.

Innovators imageBig ideas don’t grow on trees–they help trees grow better. In Washington state, where tree fruit is a multibillion dollar industry, WSU researcher Amit Dhingra’s big ideas for improving fruit quality and growing techniques are making a world of difference.

An expert in fruit genomics, Dr. Dhingra uses gene discovery and biotechnology applications to understand and enhance the unique biological characteristics of major food crops, including apples, grapes, cherries, and pears. With his colleagues at WSU, Dr. Dhingra is identifying the keys to growing more nutritious and delicious fruit. His pioneering work in genome sequencing is creating new knowledge for designing crops to meet the demands of our changing economic and environmental conditions.

View Dr. Dhingra’s Powerpoint presentation and view a video preview.