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Released Kiwifruit Genome Data Promises New Fruit Varieties

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Two New Zealand firms said today that they have released genomic data for the kiwifruit that can be used by fruit breeders to produce “new varieties with increased health properties” and “exciting” colors and flavors.
The New Zealand companies HortResearch and Genesis Research and Development said that they plan to release more than 130,000 expressed sequence tags from four plant species that produce the kiwifruit berry.
This genetic information also can be used by HortResearch and by other breeders to help manipulate genes that govern various characteristics, including vitamin and nutrition content, shape, ripening, and storage life.
Much of the information that the companies discovered about the kiwifruit from the expressed sequence tags was published today by BMC Genomics.
The average sequence length of the 132,000 ESTs the companies analyzed over the course of eight years is 503 base pairs.
HortResearch said in the paper that it plans to use genomics techniques in conjunction with marker-assisted selection (MAS) and genetic transformation tools to develop the kiwifruit.
"If breeding a new fruit with a specific trait is like finding a needle in a haystack, then MAS is like having a metal detector," HortResearch scientist William Laing said in a statement. “With MAS, we can quickly ‘scan’ the seedlings and find out right away which ones are likely to have the type of fruit we want."
Laing said that the kiwifruit genus Actinidia, which covers those involved in this research, “is incredibly diverse” and has many various colors, shapes, and flavors beyond the two most commonly known kiwifruit. Laing noted that his company has a collection of 23 species of kiwifruit, and “many more” are to be found in China, where kiwifruit originated.

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