Avo genome sequencing getting closer

Avocado genome sequencing getting closer

Horticulture
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Better avocado crops could be nearer thanks to genome sequencing.

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THE inner secrets of the avocado will soon be laid bare with scientists releasing the draft genome sequencing of the fruit.

Sequencing the genome could lead to crop improvements in the future.

University of Queensland's Centre for Horticultural Science's Professor Neena Mitter, along with colleagues Dr Alice Hayward and Stephen Fletcher collaborated on the international research led by Professor Luis Herrera-Estrella that recently published the first draft sequencing of the Hass variety genome.

Professor Mitter said the avocado had around 25,000 protein-coding genes - roughly the same as humans.

"There is a lot of genetic variation in avocado, and this new genetic information, coupled with advances in big data means there's huge potential for future crop improvement and breeding that we can now tap into," Professor Mitter said.

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UQ researchers in the Hort Innovation National Tree Genomics Program will now complete the final assembly of the genome.

"Unlocking the avocado genome will help us better target management practices by understanding the genetic controls for biological processes that influence commercially important traits," she said.

Hort Innovation's research and development manager, Dr Vino Rajandran, said having a detailed blueprint of the avocado genome would provide the Australian industry with an important tool to drive future productivity.

"It will give us new insights into improved tree architecture and flowering, and the intensification of orchards, which are priorities of our National Tree Genomics Program," Dr Rajandran said.

The UQ team also provided sequence data for Velvick, a disease-tolerant rootstock that is widely sought-after in Australia for grafting new avocado trees.

"Avocados can be highly susceptible to diseases such phytophthora root rot, so having this new understanding of avocado genetics will be important in combatting the disease, and also disease like black spot," Professor Mitter said.

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