Thanksgiving week, light posting. One holiday genome (cranberries).

cranberry_rakeThere’s nobody reading the blog this week each year, everyone is traveling or napping, at least in the US. So I’ll just bring a holiday genome I came across recently. Cranberries. This fruit is one of very few native North American fruits that are widely cultivated. I went looking to see if a genome paper was out yet, and there it was:
The American cranberry: first insights into the whole genome of a species adapted to bog habitat

As I was reading about the project, I thought I should know a bit more about specifically how they are grown. I’ve seen the flooded harvesting images, but I didn’t know what happened prior to that–the “bog habitat”. Conveniently, one of the research sites had links to some interesting videos of how cranberries are farmed. Sand–really–sand is the foundation of the fields. These dead-looking vines are laid out, and then partially buried in the sand. In a few years you will get cranberries. It’s kind of astonishing to actually see it–it looks so barren and lifeless at first.

Planting cranberries was the part new to me, and that video is posted here, but there are several more that include harvesting and shipping.

This genome project has also been added to the Sequenced Plant Genomes wiki that James Schnable maintains at CoGePedia: https://genomevolution.org/wiki/index.php/Sequenced_plant_genomes. And it’s on the phylogenetic tree right near the blueberries (another North American native) on that page.

Cranberry genetics and genomics research site: http://cggl.horticulture.wisc.edu/ . They also link to other groups involved in this work, but this is the one where I found the video.

Another fun fact for you to share at the dinner table: Probing Question: What is a heritage turkey?

“Some of these varieties were the progenitors of our current commercial turkeys, and they are fairly closely related to them genetically,” explains Hulet. “Today’s commercial turkeys are white because people didn’t like the little dots of pigment left on the skin after the feathers are pulled out, so breeders selected for a white-skinned turkey.” The white color is more natural for chickens, he explains, “while it’s a mutation for turkeys.”

Enjoy your mutant foods this holiday season.

Back to regular posting next week.

Reference:

Polashock J., Ehud Zelzion, Diego Fajardo, Juan Zalapa, Laura Georgi, Debashish Bhattacharya & Nicholi Vorsa (2014). The American cranberry: first insights into the whole genome of a species adapted to bog habitat, BMC Plant Biology, 14 (1) 165. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2229-14-165