Thursday, May 8, 2014

Defending the mother of all apples



The story from National Geographic is well done, and the photos are quite fine. Beyond that I am using this post to experiment with my new Google+ page for Adam's Apples by featuring a post from that page about the original story.

I could have dispensed with that and just linked directly, but I'm curious about ways to integrate other online media with Blogger.

I hope no one feels unacceptably practiced upon! This blog is still the hub of my apple universe.

Here are some more wild apples.

4 comments:

  1. The concept of using these wild apples to inbreed disease resistance might be easier to grasp if the wild apples in the photos weren't absolutely blasted with scab.

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    1. Ha! I guess editorial direction of photography only goes so far sometimes.

      In principle. any genetic diversity could be a source of disease resistance.

      Breeders tap malus floribunda (the Eastern Asian crabapple) for its disease-resistant qualities. Is malus sieversii (the Central Asian apples profiled in the story), used that way too, or is this only a theoretical idea?

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  2. Nice link Adam. Have you read "Botany of Desire" by Michael Pollan? He has a chapter on apples which is a pleasure to read, with sections on genetic diversity of apples and the link to the primeval wellspring of apple DNA in central Asia.

    Cummins Nursery in NY state sells some trees grafted with a small selection of the sieversii samples maintained at Geneva.

    If you plod through the entries in the database of sieversii samples at Geneva (not an easy interface for browsing):

    http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/tax_site_acc.pl?GEN%20Malus%20sieversii

    Some of them are listed as highly susceptible to various diseases, others are listed as totally immune. I think the point is that the collection there is a pool of diversity to draw from, not a packaged answer to various problems of apple production today. And of course the size of that pool is small compared to the endangered one in central asia.

    I might graft on a branch or two of sieversii for fun a year or two down the road...

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    1. Holly, I have been meaning to wrote a review of Desire for this blog.

      I thought the apple chapter was the strongest of the four, though the Johnny Appleseed stuff has been since done better (and corrected) by William Kerrigan's book. But the thought of humans and their crops coevolving is fascinating.

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