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Researchers work to create genetically perfected apples in Annapolis Valley

KENTVILLE, NS – Leading research in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley could help growers create better apples.

Researchers were busy planting 2,500 trees this week at the Apple Biodiversity Collection at the Atlantic Food and Horticulture Research Centre in Kentville, NS. The trees represent more than 1,000 different apple varieties from all over the world, including wild apples from the forests of Central Asia.

Scientists plan on sequencing the genetic material of all the varieties.

“What that gives us is the ability to start to find relationships between the DNA and the traits,” said Sean Myles, the Canada Research Chair in Agriculture Genetic Diversity. “And build up one of the most extensive databases of information about apples in the world.”

The information will be used to breed better apples that are easier to grow and desirable to consumers.

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“There are certain traits in certain apples, that as growers is very hard to work with,” explained apple grower Peter Eisses.

“If we can weed them out so that we can avoid those problems, we can avoid a lot of things like insects, which can hopefully avoid a lot of time and money for us.”

Eisses adds the researchers’ findings could give Nova Scotian growers a competitive edge.

The research is a collaboration between Dalhousie University and Agri-Food Canada. The decade-long project has the goal of creating the world’s future apple seed bank, and could put Kentville on the map.

“We want to become the centre of apple genetics and apple genetic diversity in the world,” said Myles.