Scientists have deciphered the DNA code that makes apple flesh red, which they claim could lead to a healthier and more colorful fruit.
An international team led by the University of Auckland in New Zealand conducted a study that analyzed a gene called anthocyanin that actually controls the production of the red pigment in apple flesh.
Anthocyanins are pigments produced by most plants and range in color from red to purple and blue. In addition to making fruit more attractive, these anthocyanins are powerful antioxidants and there is growing evidence that they have health benefits.
For apple breeders, the goal, according to scientists, is to produce flavorful fruit with pigments in their flesh and skin.
When red-fleshed apples grow wild in Central Asia they are generally unpleasant to eat, and the challenge is to combine the health and aesthetic benefits of red flesh with the superior taste of white-fleshed varieties.
The research, led by Dr. Richard Espley, will accelerate the development process and the final product will be a premium apple variety with significant economic potential for growers.
Besides opening new avenues for apple breeding, the research has potential for other cultivated plants.
Anthocyanins are found not only in apples and other fruits, but in all plant tissues, giving flowers color and protecting leaves from sun damage, among other roles, so the opportunities are huge.