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What are the similarities and differences between nectarine versus peach? to Top

There has been considerable controvery as to the relationship of peach and nectarine. It appears from various studies that the nectarine is a simple genetic variant of the peach.

Dr. Harold W. Fogle, leader, stone fruit investigations, Fruit and Nut Crops Research Branch, Agricultural Research Service, says that genetically the "peach character is a single factor dominant over the fuzzless condition. Crosses of peach x nectarine give all peaches in F1 (that is, the first cross) and three peaches to one nectarine in F2 if the peach is homozygous (breeding true due to similar paired genes), but one peach to one nectarine if heterozygous (not breeding true due to having differing paired genes).

Dr. Claron O. Hesse, professor of pomology, University of California, says: "The breeding behavior of the pubescence character has been elucidated for many years. In 1906, Rivers reported that the lack of pubescence of the nectarine behaved as a simple recessive factor in breeding tests. Blake and Conners verified this observation and designated the recessive allele n (an allele is one or two or more genes which can occupy a particular locus on a chromosome) so that all nectarines are of the genetic constitution nn. The presence of the dominant allele, as in NN or Nn, results in the fruit being pubescent, that is, a peach. The nectarine character was thereby demonstrated to be a simple genetic variant of the peach, and to transmit in the normal manner predicted by Mendelian genetics. The investigations of Derman on chimeras ( a mixture of tissues of different genetic constitution in the same part of an organism) has led to an understanding of the various bud-mutations of peach to nectarine observed in tree and fruit. The researches of these investigators have thus ended the speculation regarding the relationship of the peach to the nectarine.

While there is overlap in size and sugar content between peach varieties and nectarine varieties, on the average nectarines are smaller and sweeter, says Dr. Hesse. "Oberle and Nicholson have suggested that 'Sporting to the necarine condition (from the peach) seems to be associated with pronounced reduction of size of fruit.' This observation is support in breeding behavior, where nectarines in populations segregating for the peach vs. nectarine character of pubescence are smaller. It has also been shown that the nectarines are, on the average, higher in soluble solids, that is, sugar.

The problem of peach and nectarine is an old one, and engaged the attention of Charles Darwin and many others after him.
Excerpted from Seelig, R.A. 1971May. Fruit & Vegetable Facts & Pointers: Nectarines. United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association, 777 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC to Top

Updated: Tuesday, May 22, 2007.

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