Modern apples originated in Kazakhstan: Study
Tasty modern fresh apples come from a mountainous region of Kazakhstan, according to a study revealing a striking bilateral journey on the silk route to one of the most popular fruits in the world.
As travelers walked east and west along the silk route, trading their goods and ideas, they brought with them the potatoes thrown from the choicest fruits that were taken from wild trees, the researchers said.
This early selection would ultimately lead to the 7500 varieties of apples that exist today, they have to say. Researchers, including those from the Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) in the US, have sequenced and compared the genomes of 117 adherents of different apples, including domestic and 23 million wild in North America, Europe and Central and East Asia .
“We have reduced the origin of the home apple from the broad Central Asia to Kazakhstan area west of the Tian Shan mountains,” said Zhangjun Fei, BTI professor.
Researchers found that the first homemade apple had traveled east, hybridizing with local wild apples along the way, giving the ancestors sweet table apples grown in China today.
“We emphasized two major evolutionary routes, west and east, along the silk route, revealing the quality of the fruit changes every step along the way,” Fei said. Researchers also found that when the apple traversed along the silk route in the hands of travelers, trees growing from seeds fell and crossed other varieties of wild apples, including the incredibly European crabepple acid.
They found that M sylvestris contributed so much to the apple genome that modern Apple is actually more similar to that of sour crabepple than its ancestor Kazakhstan, M sieversii.
“For the ancestral species, Malus sieversii, fruits are generally much larger than other wild apples. They are soft and have a very simple taste that people do not like,” said Yang Bai BTI.
The hybridization between the oldest cultivated apples and sylvestris M, followed by a large human selection has given us new large apples and broad, with a crisp firmness that gives them a longer life, according to the researchers.
“Modern domesticated apples have a higher and more balanced organic acid and sugar content, so Apple has started to become a popular and privileged fruit,” Bai said. The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.