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Title: “Assessing the consequences of gene flow between cultivated apples (Malus x domestica) and their wild relatives”

Researcher: Paul Kron, Research Associate

Supervisor: Dr. Brian Husband, Department of Integrative Biology, University of Guelph


Closely related species can sometimes reproduce to produce hybrid organisms.  Two such species are the domestic apple and the wild crabapple.  Paul is studying the complex genetic interactions between these two species. This involves several components. What is the genetic variability within the wild crabapple?

What is the fate of hybrids in the natural environment; i.e. do they survive and reproduce? Over 25 saplings from each of five genetically different apple strains were grown from seeds collected on rare property (three crabapple variants plus two hybrids with the domestic apple) and planted in the alvar complex.  The fate of these individuals is being monitored over a ten-year period.  The genetic variation of pollen and seed from mature trees of both species will also be determined.  This will provide insight into the nature of the reproductive pathways that occur among these two species that lead to the production of fruits and seed.  This research will provide important information on the potential impacts of introducing genetically-modified organisms (organisms intentionally modified by humans) into the landscape.