Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Abu Dhabi scientists study the origins of date palms

NYU Abu Dhabi has launched a project that aims to find out the history and traits of date palms.

ABU DHABI // Scientists at New York University Abu Dhabi have begun sequencing the DNA of different varieties of date palms in a project they hope will enable them to develop tastier and more disease-resistant fruit.

The university's centre for genomics and systems biology has already sequenced the genomes of two of the more than 100 varieties they plan to analyse.

"Nothing is known about date palms in terms of their genetic diversity and what the varieties look like genetically," said Michael Purugganan, a professor of genomics at New York University in the US. "So we thought this was a great opportunity to understand a completely different species that's also very important to a wide group of people."

The 100 Dates! project could also help discover the origins of date palms.

"We want to find out where they first came from," said Jonathan Flowers, the project scientist.

"We have to identify the region that has the most genetic diversity, so we want to sample varieties from all over North Africa, the Middle East," he said.

The project scientist added that the region from which they probably originated "should have more genetic variation, so that means they'll have more differences".

Sequencing about 15 genomes can take from two weeks to a month. The researchers want to identify genes that determine specific characteristics, such as taste and yield. This will allow farmers and bioengineers to grow dates with the desired qualities.

The team hopes to sequence the genomes of another 30 date varieties by early next year.


Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Lionel Richie performed many of his hits from the 1970s and 1980s at the Dubai Media City Amphitheatre. Jaime Puebla / The National

Lionel Richie dishes out the hits to Dubai crowd

At his Dubai concert on Thursday, Richie greeted the audience with “Yalla habibi” – a statement of intent as his energy rarely let up.

Tyrese reunited with Fazza

Tyrese today posted on his social media accounts (Twitter, Instagram and Facebook) his pleasure at being reunited with the Crown Prince of Dubai Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

 Falconry is an activity where they demonstrate how falcons catch prey while flying at a speed of almost 360 kilometres per hour. Mona Al-Marzooqi / The National

In pictures: Adventure in the desert at Abu Dhabi's Qasr Al Sarab

Mohammad Ashfaq, an adventure guide at the Qasr Al Sarab resort, Abu Dhabi, showcases a day in his working life.

 Roberto Martinez is daring Everton to dream. Paul Ellis / AFP

Martinez v Moyes is a clash of purist v puritan

Roberto Martinez’s positivity made him the perfect choice in 2013 to manage Everton and to build on the solid foundations David Moyes had left.

Video: Local reactions to a national fishing ban

A federal fishing ban has been imposed by the UAE federal government, but local authorities are taking diiferent approaches to implementing the ban. Two fishermen tell two very different sides of the story. Produced by Paul O'Driscoll

 An Egyptian Orthodox Christian priest give communion during the Palm Sunday service inCairo, Egypt. Mohamed El-Shahed / AFP

Region in focus - April 18, 2014

The best images of the last seven days from around the Gulf and across the Middle East.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National