UAE University researchers establish gene bank for 150 varieties of dates
AL AIN // Researchers at UAE University’s date palm development unit will establish a gene bank for 150 varieties of the fruit.
The centre was set up in 1989 to lead research related to date palm production using tissue culture techniques – an in-vitro method to mass propagate date palm varieties.
Moza Al Shamsi, head of the research and development unit, said: “We are planning to get all the varieties in one area and create a genetic bank here in our lab. We are planning for 150 varieties, with a view of it being a reference, or a date library.
“We will focus on the UAE varieties which range from khlass and khenizi to Fard and LuLu and will work in collaboration with the Khalifa Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology.”
To date, the centre has produced and distributed one million date palms of 65 varieties, and grows 60,000 to 80,000 plants per year.
The genetics of the date palm are being explored not only at UAE University. At NYU Abu Dhabi, a team has developed a map of genetic changes across the genome of date palms, giving clues to the origins of palm tree domestication.
They have also established genetic differences between Middle Eastern and North African date palms, an important discovery that sheds light on where they came from.
The team at the Centre for Genomics and Systems Biology at NYUAD identified more than seven million mutations found between date palm varieties.
Updated: January 11, 2017 04:00 AM