Native to the Chinese gooseberry family, the fruit kiwi is known for its high vitamin C content which is almost equivalent to that of an orange. Turns out that kiwi doubled its content of the vitamin two times 50 million years ago and then again 20 million years ago reports the iScience Journal.
Doubling The Key Nutrient
“Polyploidy is an abrupt evolutionary event that produces thousands of extra copies of genes overnight,” says senior author Xiyin Wang, an agricultural plant scientist at the North China University of Science and Technology. “These extra copies may greatly elevate the robustness of the plant, providing opportunities for natural selection to prune and rewire its biological system over time.”
These findings came about when the team of researchers compared the genes of kiwi those of coffee and grape as the three share an ancestor. The result was that kiwi genome turned out to have four to five copies of one gene as compared to that of the others which had one. These extra genomes had the biological instructions to create and recycle vitamin C. Another finding of the same research was that kiwi duplicated its genes twice during its evolution thus doubling the vitamin C content.
“Our research has decoded the structure and evolution of the kiwifruit genome,” says Wang. “Kiwifruit is one important fruit, rich in vitamin C. Understanding its genomic structure may help us manipulate its genes to produce more nutritious kiwifruit.”