Wednesday, August 20, 2008

On hybrid fruits...

So I had the chance over the weekend to try a new fruit advertised as "dinosaur egg". The vendor claimed that it was a nectarine/plum hybrid. Yeah right I thought, nectarines and plums seem like very different fruits to me, and it's not like people are still inventing fruits right, it's just probably a plum variety with a taste similar to a nectarine. wrong.

Turns out it's a pluot, an interspecific hybrid fruit with 3/4 plum and 1/4 apricot, and there are several varieties of pluots to boot (13 according to wikipedia). How is that possible. Well they are derived from a 1:1 hybrid of plum and apricot, the plumcot, which was generated simply by cross-pollination. The plumcot can then be crossed back to either an apricot or a plum tree to get different percentage contribution (which you could probably track by QTL analysis).

In fact you can do this with apricot, plum, cherry, peach and almond trees. For example the peacotum is a peach/apricot/plum hybrid which tastes just like fruit punch. Zaiger's Genetic from California holds the patent and trademarks to pretty much all these hybrids.

People sometimes mistake nectarines as a cross between plum and peach, but in fact nectarines are just a cultivar of peaches with a recessive mutation. The fuzziness of peaches is a dominant trait.

So there you go, we are still inventing new fruits, and there is still room for innovation by using simple crosses. Who knew those fruit trees were related enough to be crossed, and that the hybrids would be fertile. Now if one of them mutha uckas fruit vendors could make me a grapple, we would be in business...


7 comments:

Anonymous Coward said...

As a side note, if you graft one tree into another, you don't get hybrids, each branch continues to produce the same fruit as its original tree.

Anonymous said...

hmm if all of those cultivated fruits are so related (because they can cross pollinate) I would suspect that perhaps there was only one originally domesticated fruit. The ones we know today are simply from artificial selection for taste, yield ect. I propose to sequence the genome of all these fruits, figure out a common ancestor sequence, make that fruit, and we can taste ancient prehistoric fruit. That would be even better than a grapple in my opinion.

kamel said...

I noticed pluots on sale several times over the summer, but they were always sold out by the time I got to the store.

As for tree grafts, you can buy 'fruit salad' trees from companies like this one if you want to make your own 5 Alive or can't decide if it's Granny Smith or Red Delicious apples you want to grow.

A Free Man said...

Plants are a lot more tolerant of interspecific hybridisation than are animals and all of those fruits are pretty closely related (all in the same family, within a couple of genera). So, not surprising at all really - if you're a botanist that is.

Anonymous Coward said...

Yeah I had no idea, in fact I cannot seem to find a fruit tree phylogenetic tree...

Anonymous said...

If you want a well doccumented example of generating massive variety through plant breeding check out the Brassica family. Cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli etc. and all the different cultivars of each. Their 2n numbers are well doccumented and you'll also see that, for the most part, they're all different.

Plant breeders are very good at making plants that wouldn't normally breed, produce new plant varieties. All hail the DUTCH! =P

From Hampton Roads,VA said...

I bought some yesterday from Wal-Mart.It has the color and texture of a plum,juicyness of the plum,size and slight tartness of a nectarine.
From Hampton Roads,VA