This blog reviews the latest products, plants and innovations in gardening. It also provides a link for my many gardening friends who are members of the GardenMessenger and Seedmessenger Yahoo groups and their sub-groups that I moderate.

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Location: Australia

I am a semi-retired UK botanical garden curator and former international horticultural consultant, who has worked extensively in Europe, the Middle East, North America and Australia. I spend part of the year in Australia and part in Europe, mainly due to family and work commitments. I earn my living from writing and editing Internet copy, articles and books. I have written over fifty books on gardening and have been translated into twenty-four different languages. I am a former UK Garden Writer of the Year and a previous Quill & Trowel Award Winner from the Garden Writer’s Association of America. I am interested in developing gardening communities on the Internet and I manage the popular GardenMessenger Yahoo group, along with its various sub-groups like PondMessenger and SeedMessenger. I also edit International Water Gardener and its associated regional web-sites.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

New Low Allergen Apple Developed

Apple 'Santana'

Researchers at a Dutch university have developed a low allergenic apple that can safely be eaten by those normally allergic to the fruit. An estimated 2% of people in western Europe are allergic to apples because of certain proteins in the fruit.The protein that causes the most problems in allergy sufferers is called Mal d1, which causes itching, prickling and a swelling of the lips, tongue and throat after consumption of a fresh apple. Scientists at the University of Wageningen in The Netherlands say their new apple, called ‘Santana’, which looks like the popular ‘Elstar’ cultivar, will not cause any allergic reactions.

The creation of the ‘Santana’ apple (a hybrid between ‘Elstar’ and ‘Priscilla’) came after post-graduate student Zhongshan Gao identified and localised genes involved in the allergenicity of the fruit after first combining its genetic data with the results of skin-prick tests in allergic patients. The aim of Gao’s study was to trace and characterise the genes that are decisive for the amino-acid compound of the four most-important allergenic protein types (Mal d1 – Mal d4). Another goal of his project was to develop genetic markers for predicting at the seedling stage whether an apple contains allergenic proteins. The researcher found 26 genes, 18 of which coded for the Mal d1 protein – an allergen especially relevant to patients in north-western Europe, who also suffer from hay fever in the spring in reaction to birch pollen. The university is currently working on developing allergy-free pears and peaches. Photo: PRI.

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