Australia’s favourite mortgage meal, the smashed avo, could soon be a lot tastier, thanks to a major research project exploring the popular fruit’s biology.
In a project worth $13.3 million, scientists from the University of Queensland and Queensland University of Technology will produce a detailed map of the avocado genome.
The genetic information will maximise crop survival and yield, develop trees resistant to drought and disease and could lead to better quality avocados.
In the financial year 2016/17, avocados generated almost $400 million for the Australian economy.
“Despite its global popularity and cult-like status in some countries, there is currently only a limited amount of information available on the avocado genome,” says UQ’s Professor Henry.
“Over the five years of this project, we will be linking the high-level genetic information to orchard performance data, to enable the industry to produce higher quality avocados more efficiently.”
It’s not just avo aficionados who will be left drooling at the project’s potential; apple, mango, macadamia, citrus and almond crops will all reap benefit from the research.
These foods represent 80 per cent of Australia’s total farming tree crop production and 56 per cent of farming tree crop revenue.
Professor Henry said genomic studies in apples showed that elite seedlings could be bred and planted as commercial varieties in just 24 months using genomic prediction approaches – as opposed to seven years through conventional breeding methods.
“The project will deliver new tools for industry to improve genetic prediction for important traits such as yield, tree architecture, flowering times, canopy structure and size, and crop load.”
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