Chinese wonder fruit genome to aid world fruit breeding
The jujube fruit or Chinese date, known for its outstanding properties has been sequenced for the first time by a researcher from The University of Western Australia in collaboration with colleagues in China
Associate Professor Guijun Yan from UWA’s School of Plant Biology and Institute of Agriculture said the breakthrough, published in Nature Communications, is significant because understanding what genes control the jujube’s beneficial traits will help fruit breeders improve the quality of other fruits.
“The jujube has highly sought-after properties including very short generation time, relatively small tree size, easy and quick flower bud differentiation, a long flowering season, and ease of vegetative propagation and cultivation,” Professor Yan said.
Its extreme accumulation of vitamin C and sugar, self-shoot-pruning and an outstanding tolerance to drought and salinity stresses will enable the use of the jujube as a potential reference genomic system for deciduous fruit trees.”
Already, the genomic analysis has identified that the genes involved in biosynthesis and recycling of Vitamin C are enhanced in the jujube, when compared with vitamin C-rich fruits like orange and kiwifruit. It is the first report on this kind of accumulation mechanism of vitamin C in fruit.
Jujube is a major dry fruit used in traditional herbal medicines for more than one billion people. Currently it is a niche fruit crop in Western Australia, and is becoming increasingly popular with growers for its fast payback, easy-management and labour savings. It is well-adapted to WA’s arid and semi-arid climate and there are now an estimated 40 growers in the state.
Professor Yan has been studying the ‘wonder fruit’ for decades and helped establish The Chinese Jujube Research Centre at Hebei Agricultural University, Baoding, China where most of the co-authors of the Nature paper are based. He also partnered with researchers from the National Engineering Research Center for Agriculture in North Mountain Area and Beijing Genomics Institute, Shenzhen.
The research was supported by grants from the National Science and Technology Support Plan of China, the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Giant Plan of Hebei, China and the Top Talent Project of Hebei, China, and the Science Foundation for Distinguished Young Scholars of Hebei Province, China.