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Spain to accelerate improvement process of avocado

Staff Writer |
The avocado has brought a revolution in gastronomy and its success is due, among other things, to its health benefits.

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Avocados contain good fats and are cholesterol and sodium free, so many researchers are trying to create the perfect avocado in their labs.

Iñaki Hormaza, a Doctor of Plant Biology at the University of California and researcher at the La Mayora Institute of Subtropical and Mediterranean Horticulture in Algarrobo (Malaga), started working on a new project to sequence the avocado's genome.

Hormaza said the purpose of this research was to find DNA pieces that were linked to particular traits so researchers could accelerate the process of improving the avocado and achieve crossing it with other varieties to optimize the Hass variety, the most consumed variety in the world.

He said this was a promising project and that researchers from other countries were collaborating in it to obtain a tastier avocado that is more resistant to pests.

This research needs the good varieties that the Center for Experimental Research La Mayora CSIC has studied very well their time of flowering and the fruit's quality, so it is possible to make a massive DNA sequence and associate these characteristics that have been studied in the field with pieces of DNA.

"If, for example, we find a piece of DNA that allows the fruit to have a higher quality, we would use that DNA for our avocado selection," stated Hormaza, who also highlighted this process' velocity when compared to field evaluation.

Hormaza said this process represented a revolution in improving fruit because the process of crossbreeding the fruit and producing seeds could take between seven and eight years, something that would be streamlined with the sequence of genomes.

He also said that the Hass variety, which had randomly originated in an orchard of Mr. Hass in California the 1920s, was the most consumed avocado variety in the world. Thus, he said, the avocado reference throughout the planet comes from a hundred year old fruit that is good but that can be improved.

In addition, he said, this Experimental Institute is investigating the pests that affect avocado crops to eradicate the soil fungi that causes the death of the trees and affects the fruit in the world, as well as the crystalline mite that stains the plants leaves.

The researcher noted that, due to its geographical location, Andalusia, and especially Malaga, have a perfect environment to produce avocados all year round, as proved by the eighty varieties of this fruit grown in La Mayora, twenty of which are marketable and six of which are of special interest to the market.

Hormaza regretted that, due to the hegemony of the Hass variety worldwide, farmers didn't produce other types of avocados that can be grown throughout the year, but opted for the Hass variety, which only bears fruit at a certain time of the year but does not enrich the international fruit and vegetable panorama.

The avocado is the star of many entrees, cold dishes, side dishes and desserts. It is quickly evolving and will be perfect gastronomic product in the kitchens worldwide.

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