By combining genetic data with the results of skin prick tests in allergic patients, more insight has been gained into the involvement of specific allergen genes in apple allergy. For his thesis at Wageningen University, Zhongshan Gao identified and localised genes which are involved in the allergenicity. The results represent a step forward in the identification, breeding and development of low allergenic apple varieties.
Approximately 2% of the West-European population has an apple allergy. Apple is the most cultivated fruit crop in temperate areas. Understanding of apple genetics has increased due to the development of genetic maps and techniques. This provided molecular markers with which seedlings can be tested for resistance to certain plant diseases. The use of markers for allergy research is new.
It has previously been proven that apple allergy is caused by one or more proteins in apple (the so-called Mal d1- till Mal d4-proteins). Mal d1 is the most important allergen in apple. People who are allergic to the Mal d1 protein feel itching, prickling and a swelling of the lips, tongue and throat after eating a fresh apple.
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