If you're enjoying cold, crisp apples in the summery northern hemisphere, ponder this: You'd be enjoying them even more if they were mutant apples.

That's right - a new strain of mutant Gala apples, found in Tennessee, are 40% bigger than normal. And they are much juicier, too. Now scientists are studying them so that we can all eat these delicious mutants, called Grand Galas. Discovery News' Emily Sohn has the story:

Along with a colleague, [horticulturalist Peter] Hurst found three ways that Grand Galas grow to be giants: They speed up their rates of photosynthesis — which helps them more efficiently turn sunlight into carbohydrate fuel. They grow bigger stalks, which widens the pipeline for transporting nutrients into the fruit. And they are better at incorporating carbohydrates for growth.

On a microscopic level, the researchers found that DNA inside the apple's cells replicates like it normally does when cells divide during fruit growth. But instead of dividing, the cells just got bigger and bigger. The process also made the apples sweeter and crisper than normal: two traits that have made new varieties of apples so popular, including Honeycrisps and SweeTangos — both recently introduced by breeders at the University of Minnesota.


Mmmm, mutant fruit flesh!

via Discovery News