Combining traditional breeding techniques, genetics and sensory science, Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland) is developing apple varieties that enthusiasts will fall in love with.
The team has been studying 70 varieties of high quality apples from the Vineland Heritage Orchard and modern commercial lines.
“We created a sensory profile of the 70 apple varieties based on 18 attributes of taste, texture and flavour,” said Dr. Amy Bowen, Vineland’s Research Program Leader, Consumer Insights. “Using 20 of the most distinct varieties within that pool in a consumer preference study, we determined that 89 per cent of consumers prefer fresh red apple flavour while 11 per cent of consumers are more interested in fresh green apple flavour.”
The DNA from the 70 profiled apple varieties was also sequenced. “We were able to map the human sensory perception and taste experience for apples onto a sequenced genome to identify genetic markers for specific fruit quality that consumers prefer,” said Dr. Daryl Somers, Vineland’s Research Director, Applied Genomics. “These markers are used to accelerate our breeding program by focusing on varieties that meet consumers’ demands.”
Established in 1967, the Vineland Heritage Orchard offers 100 apple varieties from the past (as early as the 1500s) to the present originating from North America, Europe, Asia and Oceania.
The apple varieties show a strong level of diversity in characteristics, such as astringency, fruit size and flavour
This research project is funded by the Ontario Apple Growers, the Canadian Agricultural Adaption Council, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through the Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs/University of Guelph Partnership.
The apple breeding project is part of Vineland’s research program Opening New Markets: Driving Growth in Canadian Horticulture with New Plant Varieties which develops new innovative plant varieties to open new markets to build a stronger Canadian horticulture sector.
To learn more about this project, please contact: Dr. Daryl Somers Research Director, Applied Genomics 905-562-0320 x768 email@example.com
(A version of this article appeared in the October 2015 issue of The Grower)