GERMPLASM from Brazil could be used to help reboot the Australian passionfruit industry.
With passionfruit yield declining and current varieties susceptible to diseases and pests, researchers have their eyes on releasing at least two new varieties to secure the industry's future.
There are currently only a few varieties available to the local industry.
Headed by Dr Mobashwer Alam from Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI), the project aims to produce new varieties which will be more pest and disease resilient, while also being suited to Australian consumers.
"The aim is to create new opportunities and boost profitability for growers," Dr Alam said.
"Most of the passionfruit grown in Australia is for domestic consumption, so there is scope to start exporting the fruit as well."
The Australian passionfruit industry is worth about $24 million each year with about 130 commercial growers producing more than 5000 tonnes of fruit.
Dr Alam is working with industry groups and growers to establish trials of new variety candidates in Queensland and New South Wales.
"We don't have a diverse range of germplasm in Australia, so my main purpose is to explore the potential of global germplasm," he said.
"We are working with Murdoch University through another project funded through the Hort Innovation Frontiers initiative to investigate passionfruit genetic resources.
"We are using genomics to understand the diversity in Australia's passionfruit and will explore the germplasm in Brazil to determine where we can make improvements.
"We aim to integrate advanced technologies and explore new opportunities to ensure continuous delivery of new high performing and profitable varieties for Australian industry.
"We aim to give growers confidence in new varieties and support growers with on farm production needs via new varieties developed through this project."
Megan Crowhurst from Arbour Grove Nursery, Woombye, Sunshine Coast, Queensland is working with Dr Alam to propagate rootstock and graft trial vines, as well as assisting with cross breeding and vine production.
She said she was happy to use her lifelong passion for the fruit to boost the industry.
"This program is really important because the passionfruit industry hasn't had a new variety that ticks all the boxes for a long time and to make it profitable, we need something new," Mrs Crowhurst said.
"My family has been trying to produce new varieties for many years and it's not an easy process, so it's exciting to have the breeding program up and going again."
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