story to find out more.
physiologist Paul Moore inspects green pineapple fruit about a month before
harvest. Below, salmon-pink petals and reddish-purple bracts adorn a
Pseudonanas sagenarius. Click the images for more information about
Pineapples Have Fingerprints, Too
By Marcia Wood
October 3, 2005
Pineapple--sweet, juicy and loaded with vitamin C--ranks as America's
In Hawaii, where growers produce about 215 million pounds of fragrant,
premium pineapples annually, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists are uncovering telltale
stretches of pineapples genetic material, or DNA. Then, theyre
using the DNA as genetic fingerprints to tell whos who among
the plants in the nations official collection of pineapples from around
The DNA-based fingerprints enable scientists and breeders to discern
the relatedness of pineapples that are candidates for creating superior new
plants for tomorrow. For example, certain pineapple plants might be better able
to resist attack by insects or diseases.
Moore and horticulturist
T.P. Zee, of the ARS
Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center on the islands of Oahu and
Hawaii, were part of the ARS research team whose studies yielded these DNA
fingerprints. The work revealed that each pineapple plant that they sampled
from the ARS-managed collection was genetically unique.
Moore leads the ARS
Plant Physiology, Disease, and Production Unit at Aiea, near Honolulu on
Oahu Island. On Hawaii Island, in the small city of Hilo, Zee is in charge of
Basin Tropical Plant Genetic Resources Research Unit and is curator of the
genebank there. The researchers and their colleagues documented their findings
in a 2004 issue of Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution.
Now, the scientists aim to identify about 1,000 additional, highly
revealing lengths of pineapple DNA. These are needed to even further describe
the scope of pineapples genepool.
The pineapple project is probably the most comprehensive analysis of
pineapple genetics yet reported that used a laboratory procedure known as AFLP.
An article in Agricultural Research magazine, the ARS monthly journal,
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.