Sequencing the almond reveals how it went from bitter to sweet | 9/16/2018 | Staff
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A team of researchers with members from Spain, Switzerland, Denmark and Italy has found the genetic difference between bitter wild almonds and the sweet domesticated variety. In their paper published in the journal Science, the group describes how they sequenced the almond genome and then compared sections of it in bitter and sweet varieties until they found the sequence that was different.

Almonds have had a place in the human diet for thousands of years, even before they were cultivated and sweetened. Passages in the Bible, for example, note the bitterness of the nut. Eventually, though, mention was made in early writings of Greek breeders inserting chunks of pine into the trunks of almond trees, resulting in sweeter fruit. It is now believed that doing so stressed the trees, preventing them from producing amygdalin—the toxin responsible for the bitter taste. In this new effort, the researchers sought to find the genetic differences between bitter and sweet almonds.

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The work by the team involved sequencing the genome of the almond and then studying differences between varieties to determine which part...
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