Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Tea tree genome contains clues about how one leaf produces so many flavors

You would think that different varieties of tea would come from different plants and those different plant characteristics would be what gives the tea its distinct flavor.  However this isn't the case and in fact many of the most popular kinds of tea including green tea, black tea white tea, and chai tea all come from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant.  There are only two major varieties of this plant that are used commercially for making tea and geneticists wanted to determine what it is about the plants that give the diverse flavors.  Studies have shown that tea gets its flavor mainly from flavonoids, which are antioxidants that help plants survive.  The C. sinensis species has genes that code for different levels of flavonoids when compared to other Camellia species which is why they are so good for tea production.  Scientists are currently attempting to sequence the genome of this plant, however it is quite difficult because of "jumping genes" which have copied and pasted themselves into the genome.  The genome is 3.02 billion base pairs long and roughly four times larger then the coffee plants genome.  Scientists have completed the sequencing the initial genome but still have to double check the draft and sequence different tea tree varieties from around the world as environmental factors are thought to have contributed.  

1 comment:

  1. great article, never knew tea is base on environmental factor