How long does it take to make an apple? In average, 150 days up to a perfect mature stage. But based on winter basement survivors, complete ripening isn’t happening too fast in good conditions. Apples seem to be a good model fruit. Well, it’s economically demanding too. Scientifically sound or so. And before I swamp into more trivia, this is just to let you know about a recent study* that did the big run of mashing gene expression during apple development from bud and buzz to fruitful fruit.
The main point (or, at least, of immediate general scientific interest, or is there such a thing as a “general scientific interest”?), is that 16 genes expressed during fruiting have been identified, that are expressed similarly in developping tomatoes too (fruits, not plants). These are thus core genes involved in fruit making. We may thus have soon the basic gene scheme for fruit making. Waiting for the upcoming flow chart… (Huh, as I am interested in genes that make fruit different, or special, I guess I’ll have to wait a bit longer).
How many genes does it take to make an apple? There are at least 1950 genes whose expression levels change during time as a result of maturing a fruit. This does not mean others are useless of course, since you need all the classics to get your basic function go ahead, but at least 1950 have a specific use requiring an increase in expression during an apple development. That’s a lot isn’t it?
Well, at least they can be assigned to their respective function-categories: control of cell division (early fruit development), accumulating starch (making reserves, that’s all about becoming a fruit!), and beginning of the ripening process (ripening may not appear too appealing as a category name, but that’s actually when acquiring a fine aroma takes place).
The least we can say is that that’s really a fruitful research…
* B.J. Janssen, K. Thodey, R.J. Schaffer, R. Alba, L. Balakrishnan, R. Bishop, J.H. Bowen, R.N. Crowhurst, A.P. Gleave, S. Ledger, S. McArtney, F.B. Pichler, K.C. Snowden, S. Ward (2008). Global gene expression analysis of apple fruit development from the floral bud to ripe fruit. BMC Plant Biology 2008, 8:16.
(access to full length article here).