Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

A Vanilla Genome

Researchers have sequenced the genome of the vanilla plant with the hope of leading to easier production of the finicky crop, the Miami Herald reports.

It notes that the process of making vanilla is painstaking, as the plant's flowers bloom only briefly and fertilization must be done by hand to spur the production of beans. But, researchers from the University of Florida and Elo Life Systems have now sequenced the genome of orchid species Vanilla planifolia

As they report in Nature Food, the researchers identified a number of genes that could influence vanilla production and bean quality. In particular, Florida's Alan Chambers and his colleagues noted a phenylalanine ammonia-lyase (PAL) allele that could potentially be harnessed to produce beans with higher vanillin content as well as gene variants that influence pod shattering.

"The quality of vanilla beans is primarily defined by the vanillin content. So if you can produce plants with higher vanillin concentrations, your beans will be worth more," Chambers tells the Herald.

The Scan

Enzyme Involved in Lipid Metabolism Linked to Mutational Signatures

In Nature Genetics, a Wellcome Sanger Institute-led team found that APOBEC1 may contribute to the development of the SBS2 and SBS13 mutational signatures in the small intestine.

Family Genetic Risk Score Linked to Diagnostic Trajectory in Psychiatric Disorders

Researchers in JAMA Psychiatry find ties between high or low family genetic risk scores and diagnostic stability or change in four major psychiatric disorders over time.

Study Questions Existence of Fetal Microbiome

A study appearing in Nature this week suggests that the reported fetal microbiome might be the result of sample contamination.

Fruit Fly Study Explores Gut Microbiome Effects on Circadian Rhythm

With gut microbiome and gene expression experiments, researchers in PNAS see signs that the microbiome contributes to circadian rhythm synchronicity and stability in fruit flies.