Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

David Ewing Duncan

A View from David Ewing Duncan

Sequencing the cucumber

Geneticists in China and the U.S. have sequenced the cucumber genome.

  • June 5, 2009

Geneticists in China and the U.S. have sequenced the cucumber genome. This comes on top of the news that the tomato is being sequenced by a 10-nation consortium. But we still have a long way to go before the DNA of my whole salad is sequenced. So far, lettuce has been left out of vegetable sequencing projects, and so has the radish. Never mind pine nuts and parsley.

Credit: SXC

Researchers hope to use information about the DNA of cucumbers as a window into the molecular workings of a vegetable that shares genes with 800 species, including watermelons, squash and pumpkins. Undoubtedly, this knowledge will be useful in creating ever better cucumbers, though I do wonder how far the sequencing of plants and animals will go. It may also be used to genetically engineer a super-cucumber.

This news is part of a decade of work by scientists sequencing model organisms that include mice, flies, yeast, and a little worm called C. elegans. Among plants, scientists have rice, sorghum and other staple crops.

I don’t know how many genes humans share with a cucumber, but scientists estimate we share about 50 percent of our DNA with the banana. This is the nature of DNA in evolution: that all organisms currently alive developed over the eons from common earlier organisms.

In other words, we are what we eat.

AI is here. Will you lead or follow?
Join us at EmTech Digital 2019.

Register now
Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Plus.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    Print + Digital Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

    Technology Review PDF magazine archive, including articles, images, and covers dating back to 1899

    10% Discount to MIT Technology Review events and MIT Press

    Ad-free website experience

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.