NFC, fruitID project for aiding identification by DNA Analysis
National Fruit Collection
The UK’s national collection at Brogdale has many thousand cultivars. There are over 2000 varieties of apples and all have been fingerprinted by DNA SSR methods. It is well supported by a searchable database including clear compact photographs of fruit. Information is readily available at http://www.nationalfruitcollection.org.uk/ and is curated by Dr Matthew Ordidge of Reading University.
Peter Laws has developed an extensive website for aiding the identification of fruit cultivars, apples, pears, plums and cobnuts. fruitID https://www.fruitid.com/#main has full descriptions of many hundreds of cultivated taken from literature, with synopses, searchable databases, supported with detailed quality photographs of a range of samples. Included too is an extensive library of books and pomonas and useful research papers.
The project for aiding identification
Recognising the utility of DNA fingerprinting confirm identification at the NFC and elsewhere, both groups have supported a project to be set up through UK and Ireland. This project provides a commercial service to have samples (usually leaves) analysed for their DNA by East Malling Research (EMR), the same laboratory used by the NFC in their characterization work.
Initially when kicked-off early in 2016, Peter thought there might be 50, possibly 100, samples submitted by orchard groups. Over the four years it has run the average number has been about 10 times that level of interest. Samples collected in the summer and results distributed in January. Raw experimental results from DNA analysis are checked against calibration standards, and the scientists at EMR meticulously check these against their extensive data from prior NFC work and other samples submitted. Subsequently the results are worked up by Peter for highlighting matching samples and residual queries. Matthew Ordidge checks and comments upon these results for producing the best view of the likely variety of each sample. Peter then lets all participants know all the results which includes the fingerprint, the suggested ID, and the sample numbers and submitting organisations for which there were matches. Peter administers the scheme and its associated data management seemingly as effortlessly as it is certainly efficient
Details of the scheme can be found on the fruitID help page https://www.fruitid.com/#help.
MAN joined this project with enthusiasm. In summary benefits have been:
- An increased confidence in ID of at least 143 varieties in our collection,
- at least 20 varieties we hold are out-of-area, ones we’d likely never have identified,
- where our varieties match those held elsewhere, we know with whom to speak,
- when there is no match with any other sample, we can eliminate about 3000 varieties immediately,
- we have a much better idea of which may be seedlings, we know the unknowns,
- some understanding of parentage is appearing and,
- most importantly, a greater sense of national community has been created enabling a more focused and supportive dialogue amongst all interested parties.
The Marcher Apple Network wishes to record its whole-hearted appreciation to all involved at fruitID, NFC and EMR for the excellent collaboration, quality results and friendly service. It has been and continues to be great fun working with them and all other participating groups. Thank you.