Researchers have developed a new technology that can identify tangerine species through DNA analysis. The new technology is expected to help discern tangerine breeds and solve intellectual property rights-related conflicts over seeds.

The technology, which was developed by the Korea Seed and Variety Service (KSVS), allows for the accurate identification of tangerine breeds through DNA analysis of a small amount of tissue from the leaves, and it only takes four weeks to obtain the result. In the past, it took a long time to identify tangerine species as they had to wait until the tangerine trees grew and produced fruit after the seeds were planted.

Most types of tangerine grown in Korea are imported, but with the rise of issues surrounding royalties and intellectual property rights, it has become very important to identify different breeds. Among all other types of fruit, in January 2012, tangerines were the last to be registered for breed protection. Now, eleven types of tangerine are registered and protected and 182 breeds are being produced or imported.


A flow chart shows how to make a fruit DNA profile database, by the Korea Seed and Variety Service. (image courtesy of the KSVS)

The KSVS started identifying tangerine breeds in 2013 and developed the technology to distinguish 73 breeds with 22 DNA markers by using simple sequence repeats (SSRs) of DNA length polymorphisms. They also established a DNA profile database for 113 tangerine breeds.

The KSVS filed patent applications for the technology, describing it as tangerine breed identification technology using SSR markers. It is currently under review.

SSRs are a group of repetitive DNA sequences that represent a significant portion of higher eukaryote genomes. SSR DNA length polymorphisms can compare differences in the repeats of SSRs in different breeds and analyze the size of the DNA fragments with special entity characteristics.


The Korea Seed and Variety Service developed a technology to identify tangerine breeds through DNA analysis of a small amount leaf. (photo: Yonhap News)

"Using tangerine breed identification through DNA analysis, we intend to select opposing breeds of tangerines for whom breed protection applications are filed and try to solve 'breed infringements' and seed-related conflicts," said a KSVS official.

By Limb Jae-un Staff Writer