A team of researchers including members from Spain, Switzerland, Denmark, and Italy has discovered the genetic distinction between bitter wild almonds and the sweet domesticated variety. Of their paper published within the journal Science, the group explains how they sequenced the almond genome after which compared sections of it is bitter and sweet varieties until they discovered the different sequence.
Almonds have had a place within the human diet for 1000’s of years, even earlier than they had been cultivated and sweetened. Passages within the Bible, for instance, note the bitterness of the nut. Finally, though, mention was made in early writings of Greek breeders interpolating chunks of pine into the trunks of almond trees, leading to sweeter fruit. It’s now believed that doing so stressed the trees, preventing them from producing amygdalin—the toxin liable for the bitter taste. On this new effort, the researchers sought to seek out the genetic differences between bitter and sweet almonds.
The work by the team concerned sequencing the genome of the almond after which finding out variations between varieties to find out which a part of the genome was liable for producing amygdalin. Because it turned out, this was no simple feat. The researchers wound up learning and evaluating the different varieties over the course of two years. Ultimately, they discovered what they had been on the lookout for a protein called bHLH2. They found that in wild almond trees, bHLH2 binds to two genes, instigating the manufacturing of amygdalin. In candy home varieties, there’s a mutated model of bHLH2 that’s not able to unite with the genes. Thus, production of amygdalin doesn’t occur.
At present, nature typically interferes with human cultivation efforts, permitting some almond trees to develop with the wild version of bHLH2—however, farmers aren’t able to determine them till they develop to produce fruit. Now, they can be tested as soon as they sprout to identify those that will eventually produce bitter nuts.