The mystery of the peacherine

Rarely does this site delve into genetics, not least because of the total lack of any qualifications in that area among the Moogiemedia team. However, an intriguing series of events, leading to a most illuminating office discussion, has persuaded me to extemporise on the matter.

It all started when I found a peach on the work minibus. I say ‘peach’ but it was relatively hairless for a peach, yet not so hairless that it was obviously a nectarine. I mentioned this to my colleague, who inspected it and after some undisclosed internet search informed me that peaches and nectarines were the actually same species. Peaches have a dominant allele for fuzzy skin while nectarines have recessive alleles.

A little while later she informed me that there’s a fruit called a peacherine, that’s a cross between a – yes you guessed it – peach and a tangerine. NO! It’s a peach and a nectarine of course.

‘Aha!’ I exclaimed, applying my rudimentary biological expertise, ‘how can you have a cross of two things that have essentially the same genes, albeit the gene for fuzzy skin having different allele combinations?’

That is, if the dominant fuzzy skin allele is H and the recessive allele is h then wouldn’t gene pairs of HH Hh and hH produce a peach while hh would produce a nectarine? There’s no combination left to give a peacherine.

We were left in suspense for several days. Then, today, we had the chance to ask our more botanically minded colleague.

It turns out that the extent of dominance in an allele can vary. Therefore the peacherine could be heterozygous for fuzzy skin while the peach is homozygous with two fuzzy skin-dominant alleles and the nectarine also homozygous with two recessive non-fuzzy skin-recessive alleles. Therefore: peach = HH, necarine = hh and peacherine = Hh and hH.

For those of you that knew this all along and now feel they’ve wasted their time reading up to this point, the real news is that the whole incident has persuaded me that I need a song on my planned Fruit EP called Pretty As A Peacherine (don’t worry I’ll still be working on a grapefruit one). It will go something like this:

Sheeeee’s as pretty as a peacherine.
My soft and yellow wet dream.
A juice-producing machine …

But to my mind the explanation of the peacherine still seems to have a few holes in it. For a start, nectarines and peaches are supposed to also vary in skin colour and flesh colour, though not all do. Fact or fuzzy logic? Do you know the genetic ins and outs of the peacherine? Desperately seeking an answer: send in your comments, please.

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