EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Michigan State University scientists are keeping cherry dreams alive with their new genome findings on Michigan’s famous tart cherry.
In Michigan and throughout the country, the tart cherry industry has had major losses because we have had major spring frosts happening in April and May, said Courtney Hollender, Assistant Professor for MSU Department of Horticulture.
“No flower; no fruit,” Hollender said.
Hollender said her department is using the genome to delay the cherry bloom by just by a week or two, to keep the plants from succumbing to frost.
“They’re amazing. How do you not love a tart cherry–they’re sweet, they’re tart, they’re red, and you can only get them a few times a year,” Hollender said.
Charity Goeckeritz, a Ph.D. graduate research assistant at MSU, said the genome findings can increase the quality and quantity of Michigan’s tart cherry, to provide more cherries to the average consumer.
“It’s important, because now that we have this reference, we’re really able to look at DNA sequences of different tart cherries, compare them to one another and then look at the characteristics that differ and try and pinpoint which DNA sequences are important for controlling those,” Goeckeritz said.
Apart from controlling bloom time, uncovering the tart cherry genome is significant because scientists said now they can control disease, as well as flavor and firmness of cherries.