DNA Fingerprinting Services-fruitID and East Malling Research
fruitID and East Malling Research
The fruitID DNA Fingerprinting scheme has now been running for four years. In that time MAN has submitted about 600 samples of leaves from trees in its orchards and those of members. Almost all of the varieties, known and unknown, in our collection have been covered.
Each sample set contains eight leaves per tree, in bags only marked with a code number. Samples are collected in May or June and batches of them are sent to East Malling Research and stored under liquid nitrogen conditions with the hundreds of other samples from around the Country. A file with tree source information is sent to fruitID but not EMR, thus ensuring that EMR works “blind”. Later in the year, EMR analyses the DNA and makes preliminary matches to the NFC, ISSA and combined regional databases of all fingerprints. It has been greatly aided by their extensive in depth knowledge of the methodology, collaboration with NFC over many years and access to data not publicly available. The preliminary matches is then worked up further by fruitID addressing more detailed issues and marrying results with tree source. Finally results are distributed usually in January to all participants in the scheme. Further details are available at https://www.fruitid.com/#help
It has transformed our understanding of the collection. When DNA agrees with a prior identification, we have unambiguous confidence in our ID. When DNA suggests a name for an unknown, we have been able to re-look with fresh eyes, especially for out-of-area varieties. When there is no match with any variety hitherto analysed, we can eliminate about 3000 varieties immediately!
In a relatively few cases, there have been queries resulting from some technical ambiguity, difficulty in defining the fingerprint, or a plain and simple surprise. Most of these have been speedily addressed with help from EMR/NFC staff.
We have been delighted with the quality and utility of the results, the ease of service use, aftercare support is good, and the costs are not unreasonable. In view of the scale of operation, the turn-around time from planning of sampling to receiving results is not unreasonable, though sometimes those nine months seems an age when fascinating results are expected!