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Botanical information

Blossoms, fruits, and leaves of the apple tree (Malus domestica)

The apple is a deciduous tree, generally standing {{safesubst:#invoke:convert|convert}} tall in cultivation and up to {{safesubst:#invoke:convert|convert}} in the wild.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> When cultivated, the size, shape and branch density are determined by rootstock selection and trimming method. The leaves are alternately arranged dark green-colored simple ovals with serrated margins and slightly downy undersides.<ref name=app/>

Blossoms are produced in spring simultaneously with the budding of the leaves, and are produced on spurs and some long shoots. The {{safesubst:#invoke:convert|convert}} flowers are white with a pink tinge that gradually fades, five petaled, with an inflorescence consisting of a cyme with 4–6 flowers. The central flower of the inflorescence is called the "king bloom"; it opens first, and can develop a larger fruit.<ref name=app/><ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref>

The fruit matures in late summer or autumn, and varieties exist with a wide range of sizes. Commercial growers aim to produce an apple that is {{safesubst:#invoke:convert|convert}} in diameter, due to market preference. Some consumers, especially those in Japan, prefer a larger apple, while apples below {{safesubst:#invoke:convert|convert}} are generally used for making juice and have little fresh market value. The skin of ripe apples is generally red, yellow, green, pink, or russetted although many bi- or tri-colored varieties may be found.<ref name=Janick>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref> The skin may also be wholly or partly russeted i.e. rough and brown. The skin is covered in a protective layer of epicuticular wax,<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> The flesh is generally pale yellowish-white,<ref name=Janick/> though pink or yellow flesh is also known.

Wild ancestors

{{#invoke:main|main}} The original wild ancestor of Malus domestica was Malus sieversii, found growing wild in the mountains of Central Asia in southern Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Xinjiang, China.<ref name=app/><ref name="Architecture and size relations: an essay on the apple (Malus x domestica, Rosaceae) tree"/> Cultivation of the species, most likely beginning on the forested flanks of the Tian Shan mountains, progressed over a long period of time and permitted secondary introgression of genes from other species into the open-pollinated seeds. Significant exchange with Malus sylvestris, the crabapple, resulted in current populations of apples being more related to crabapples than to the more morphologically similar progenitor Malus sieversii. In strains without recent admixture the contribution of the latter predominates.<ref>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref><ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref><ref name="Coart"/>

Genome

In 2010, an Italian-led consortium announced they had decoded the complete genome of the apple in collaboration with horticultural genomicists at Washington State University,<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> using the Golden delicious variety.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> It had about 57,000 genes, the highest number of any plant genome studied to date<ref>An Italian-led international research consortium decodes the apple genome AlphaGallileo 29 August 2010. Retrieved 19 October 2011.</ref> and more genes than the human genome (about 30,000).<ref>The Science Behind the Human Genome Project Human Genome Project Information, US Department of Energy, 26 March 2008. Retrieved 19 October 2011.</ref> This new understanding of the apple genome will help scientists in identifying genes and gene variants that contribute to resistance to disease and drought, and other desirable characteristics. Understanding the genes behind these characteristics will allow scientists to perform more knowledgeable selective breeding. Decoding the genome also provided proof that Malus sieversii was the wild ancestor of the domestic apple—an issue that had been long-debated in the scientific community.<ref>Clark, Brian, Apple Cup Rivals Contribute to Apple Genome Sequencing, 29 August 2010, Washington State University, retrieved 19 October 2011.</ref>


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