Mexican scientists sequence avocado genome

The research opens the possibility to improve avocados genetically to maintain Mexico's competitiveness as the main exporter of this endemic product

Mexican scientists sequence avocado genome
Mexico is the main exporter of avocado in the world – Photo: Kevin Midigo/AFP
English 07/08/2019 18:31 Leonardo Domínguez Mexico City Actualizada 18:34
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The green gold has been deciphered. A group of international scientists headed by the Mexican Luis Herrera Estrella could finally sequence the avocado genome, which commercial market is of USD $13,000 million a year.

According to the researcher of the Advanced Genomic Unit (Uga-Langebio) of the CINVESTAV, this scientific result will allow obtaining better variants of the avocado fruit and tree and make it more enduring to the attack of pathogens.

In the research, which was published today in the prestigious journal “Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences,” they detail that they sequenced the genome of different varieties of this fruit, such as Hass, West Indian, and Guatemalan.

“All avocados have the same genome, but there are different alleles or versions of different genes in each of them, which differentiates them, making some of them more enduring to a disease or being able to produce oils of higher quality, among other characteristics. In the future, that information will allow us to make a selection or manipulation of the avocado genome,” said Alfredo Herrera Estrella, another of the leaders of the research.

 

The Hass avocado is the most commercialized variety in the world, with a market of thousands of millions of dollars a year. However, this variety has not had any improvement in the last 40 years because it has a very long life cycle, which represents an unusual situation in agriculture, since many harvests are modified even for measures of protection from plagues.

In a release issued by the CINVESTAV, they say this research opens the possibility to generate a “technological [platform] of improvement of this harvest, particularly of the endurance of the tree to the attack of pathogens and the quality of the fruit, so as to maintain the competitiveness of Mexico as its main exporter.

“It’s necessary to launch a genetic improvement strategy of avocado that involves a multidisciplinary and interinstitutional effort. Using these tools will depend on the politic decision of Mexico, because this knowledge is now available to everyone, and if not other countries will take advantage of it, with the risk of this country losing the opportunity to remain as the main exporter of an endemic product,” highlighted Luis Herrera Estrella.

This research had the participation of 17 institutions of four continents and it took more than 8 years of research since the approval of the sector project Sagarpa-Conacyt which was concluded with the publishing in the magazine PNAS.
 

 

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