Skip to main content
ARS Home » Northeast Area » Geneva, New York » Plant Genetic Resources Unit (PGRU) » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #378983

Research Project: Development of Biotic and Abiotic Stress Tolerance in Apple Rootstocks

Location: Plant Genetic Resources Unit (PGRU)

Title: Origin of domesticated apple

item KHAN, AWAIS - Cornell University
item Gutierrez, Benjamin
item CHAO, THOMAS - US Department Of Agriculture (USDA)
item SINGH, JUGPREET - Cornell University

Submitted to: The Apple Genome
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/15/2021
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Apple is an iconic fruit of American culture, but its origins trace back to Central Asia. Here we highlight the evolution of Malus sieversii, the wild progenitor of modern apple, and showcase some of the domestication events of apple. Unlike other crops, like wheat and corn, that have undergone extreme changes through the domestication process, apple has retained a significant resemblance to its wild progenitors.

Technical Abstract: Genomic, genetic and archaeobotanical evidences indicate that alongside interspecific hybridization between Malus sieversii from Central Asia and wild species along the Silk Road, segmental duplications, point mutations, and clonal propagation led to the fixation of traits in cultivated apples, unlike in annual crops. There is minimal evidence for long-term intentional, targeted selection for fruit quality and horticultural traits. Their self incompatibility, long juvenile phases, and clonal propagation have maintained genetic diversity in apples. Only modern (commercial) apple cultivars hint at reduction of diversity and selection for commercially important traits. The vast phenotypic variation in pre-breeding and advanced breeding material shows that a great deal of genetic diversity is still maintained in the cultivated genepool.