Cider Apple Hunt

We want to sample your unknown apple trees!


As part of our ongoing research, based at the University of Bristol's School of Biological Sciences, we have developed a genotyping system (a system similar to that used for human DNA fingerprinting) which can rapidly and easily identify apple varieties. With help from John Thatcher of Thatcher’s Cider in Somerset, Liz Copas (the last pomologist employed at the University’s Long Ashton Research Centre which closed in 2003), the National Fruit Collection at Brogdale in Kent, and several small, local orchards we have created a database of over 2,500 apple 'fingerprints'.

The group would now like to catalogue as many apple trees as possible to identify ‘unknown’ apple trees. To do this we need help from the local community; we are asking people in the Bristol area who, in their garden or near to where they live, have an apple tree they can't identify to collect three or four leaves and send them to us. Please put the leaf samples in a small plastic bag (leaves from one apple tree per bag), give them a distinctive code name (e.g. 'XY79645BW'), and then either bring them to the Life Sciences Building in Tyndall Avenue or post them to Professor Keith Edwards, 24 Tyndall Avenue, Bristol, BS8 1TQ. Please get them to us before Friday 2nd October because any leaf samples that arrive thereafter will not be 'fingerprinted'

Once all the samples have been collected and 'fingerprinted' we will make the results available here; that is, along with each of the unique codes provide by you, we will provide the tree's 'fingerprint' and, if it should share the same 'fingerprint' as any named variety in the database, identify it.

Listen here to the announcement made by Professor Keith Edwards on Radio Bristol on the 7th September 2020 (the interview took place in the timeslot between 2:23:57 and 2:28:45).

Apple Genotyping

Accurate identification of named varieties in germplasm collections is extremely important, especially for vegetatively propagated cultivars which are expensive to maintain. Thus, an inexpensive, reliable and rapid genotyping method is essential because it avoids the need for laborious and time-consuming morphological comparisons. Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) marker panels containing large numbers of SNPs have been developed for many crop species, but such panels are much too large for basic cultivar identification. Here, we have identified a minimum number of SNP markers sufficient to distinguish apple cultivars held in the English and Welsh national collections providing a cheaper and automatable alternative to the markers currently used by the community.

The data available from this site is based on two studies carried out at by the Functional Genomics Group at the University of Bristol, UK. These data have be published in the folloing article: