- Once described by a detractor as smelling of “turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock”, southeast Asia’s durian fruit leaves no-one unmoved – you either adore or abhor it.
- Popular in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, the spiny, stinky delicacy is banned from public transport and many hotels.
- Yet, for a food so controversial, very little was known about the durian’s genetic makeup, until now.
- Scientists from Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia published the DNA blueprint of the common durian, Durio zibethinus – laying bare the genes responsible for its unique traits.
- Such data “is vital to better understanding of durian biodiversity,” the team wrote in the journal Nature Genetics.
- There are 30 known species in the Durio family, with D. zibethinus the most widely consumed.
- The thorn-covered fruit, yellow-green in colour, can grow to the size of a rugby ball.
- Genomic data could be useful for “rapid quality control”, they said, verifying the authenticity of fruit sold as desirable cultivars which may fetch high prices among aficionados.
- Further studies will help to elucidate the ecological roles of these tropical plants.