Crunchier, juicier apples could be in stores soon after scientists said Monday they had mapped the genetic code of the fruit.

Knowing the genetic makeup of apples will make it possible to improve the quality and speed up supply, say scientists.

Roger Hellens, Science Group Leader of Genomics at New Zealand firm Plant & Food Research, said: "Now we have the sequence of the apple genome, we will be able to identify the genes which control the characters that our sensory scientists have identified as most desired by consumers -- crispness, juiciness and flavor. Understanding how important characteristics in plants are controlled is vital in reducing the time to breed successful commercial cultivars.

Decoding the DNA of the apple has also revealed more about its origins. The research suggests that a plant that became the apple tree was born around 65 million years ago after a comet wiped out the dinosaurs.

An international consortium of scientists sequenced more than 600 million pairs of DNA which make up the apple genome.

The fruit is the fourth most economically important fruit crop in the world