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A Grape Has More Genes Than a Human Body

by Alisha Upadhyay

A Grape Has More Genes Than a Human Body

June 16, 2021

Strawberries, Grapes, and Tomatoes are more evolved than us.

That Grape Deserved the Surgery

The human genome project promised us a lot, including a future return on investment in the form of illness resolution and generational planning. The massive financial and scientific undertaking began with convincing claims that humans have millions, then hundreds of thousands, of genes. Many people believed that we, as a race, would not be the largest source of DNA on the globe. As more data sets are acquired, we are confronted with the somewhat discouraging news that chickens are closing in on us and that some plants are well ahead of us.

The genome of the pinot noir grape has been sequenced by French and Italian experts, a feat that could one day lead to the development of pest-resistant strains or, more controversially, new wine variations and flavors.

The study found that wine lovers who praise Champagne and Burgundy wines for their “complexity” are correct: pinot noir has roughly 30,000 genes in its DNA, compared to 20,000-25,000 in the human genome. The grape contained twice as many genes as other plants specialized in producing the tannins and terpenes that give the wine its deep flavor.

Pinot-Noir-Grape-scoolbuzz
Pinot noir has roughly 30,000 genes in its DNA, compared to 20,000-25,000 in the human genome.

The findings were reported in the journal ‘Nature’. Pinot noir is the first grape and fruit to be genetically identified, and applying this new knowledge to the plants could take years. However, it may lead to better grape types that are more resistant to bugs and disease in the future.

According to one of the researchers, Patrick Wincker, this could be the first step toward generating novel wine flavors; but, because the flavor is also affected by sunlight and soil conditions, “tweaking the taste of wine won’t be easy,” he stated.

It is not only the grapes, but the tomatoes too have evolved well ahead of humans. Plant geneticists from 14 nations have spent the last nine years studying the genetic makeup of the tomato, discovering that it has 31,760 genes, which is 7,000 more than a human being! 

The tomato genome is both of high value and a key to comprehending the extraordinarily versatile family of plants it belongs to. According to scientists, this includes the potato, tobacco plant, pepper, eggplant, and deadly nightshade.

Along with tomatoes, strawberries too are genetically variant. Strawberry plants are one of those plants whose genetic code has been completely deciphered by scientists.

In 2010, an international team of scientists led by Kevin Folt, an assistant professor at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, discovered 35,000 genes in strawberries! A person, on the other hand, only has 25,000!

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