The $3 billion global macadamia industry has roots in a single Australian tree, genetic research shows.
While macadamias are native to Australia, most of the world’s cultivated macadamia trees are bred in Hawaii.
Researchers from Southern Cross University and The University of Queensland cracked the DNA of the Hawaiian nuts and found nearly 70 percent of the commercial macadamia industry can be traced back to a single tree in Queensland.
Seeds from a tree north-east of Gympie were taken to Hawaii in the 19th century.
Dr Catherine Nock from Southern Cross University said: “It was a bit of a shock to see just how narrow the gene pool was from which the Hawaiian varieties were developed.”
Dr Nock’s team also found that land clearing across Australia has wiped out many variations of wild macadamia.
Macadamias, which are native to the lowland rainforests of southern Queensland and northern New South Wales, are now also commercially grown in South Africa, Kenya, the US, China and across South East Asia and South America.
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