1. Adapting apples to climate change. Apple varieties are needed that are adapted to erratic spring weather patterns (warm temperatures followed by deep freezes) that result in devastating losses in fruit production and cause severe injury to plants. ARS researchers at Kearneysville, West Virginia are conducting field studies of a transgenic apple rootstock overexpressing a gene that increases cold hardiness and delays bud break. The studies, entering into their third year, have shown that the trees consistently go dormant earlier in the fall, maintain dormancy longer in the spring, and have increased cold hardiness. This rootstock demonstrates how apple biotechnology can be used to adapt fruit trees to global climate change.
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