Through genomic sequencing of the pineapple, scientists are learning how the tropical citrus fruit can survive even in the most water-starved environments.
A team of scientists has unlocked the genetic secrets of the pineapple in a bid to understand how this exceptional fruit works – and it could lead to a few important discoveries.
More specifically, the research team was looking for insight into how the plant is able to deal with droughts using a special form of photosynthesis, according to a Reuters report.
The genome provides a foundation for developing cultivated varieties that are improved for disease and insect resistance, quality, productivity and prolonged shelf life, University of Illinois plant biologist Ray Ming said.
Pineapples were tamed nearly 6,000 years prior in the regions which are now known as southwest Brazil and eastern Paraguay. They are in a matter of seconds developed in tropical and subtropical territories over the world, and are a enormous business.
After bananas, pineapples are the most important tropical fruit crop.
Ming said, “The mechanical creation of pineapple in Hawaii a century back made pineapple a well-known organic product overall in light of its remarkable flavor and fragrance”.
It has also been revealed that pineapple are the most valuable type of produce, out of 10,000 plant species which employ a type of photosynthesis called crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM).
But what is the thing which enables pineapple to thrive in limited water environment better than any other plant with CAM photosynthesis.
The researchers are hopeful the genome sequence will lead to opportunities to engineer the CAM characteristics into other food crops and increasing the amount of land that can be used to grow food for an ever-increasing population and fight world hunger.
The research appears in the journal Nature Genetics.
Researchers found that it is the plant’s circadian clock which allows it to differentiate day and night and regulates metabolism accordingly.
The vast majority of crop plants, such as barley, wheat or rice, use C3 carbon fixation, and require moderate sun exposure and temperature values, plenty of water, and carbon dioxide concentrations of at least 200 ppm.
Understanding the evolution of these different types of photosynthesis will help scientists in their efforts to develop more productive, drought-tolerant varieties of essential crops, Ming said.
Ming said this makes sense because CAM photosynthesis lets plants close pores in their leaves during daytime and open them at night, helping retain moisture. CAM photosynthesis is a recurrent adaptation, with numerous independent origins across 35 diverse families of vascular plants.
“Higher water-use efficiency is a highly desirable trait, given the need to double food production by 2050 in the context of a changing climate”, he said. This suggests, then, that the plant can more easily protect itself from the hot sun during the day to reserve energy (much like the way mammals sleep) during the night.
Ming said that adapting food crops to become more resistant to droughts could also help secure food supplies in the coming years.