Stem cell research could double avo production

For fresh produce marketing in Australia and New Zealand
Gabrielle Easter

BY GABRIELLE EASTER

@gab_produceplus

Stem cell research could double avo production

University of Queensland researchers have developed a method the could double avocado production in the Australian state

Stem cell research could double avo production

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Researchers at the University of Queensland (UQ) have developed a stem cell multiplication method that could double the state’s avocado production.

The growing method could lead to 500 times more avocado plants being supplied to the industry, and could reduce the time it takes for avocado orchards to mature.

Neena Mitter from the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture & Food Innovation, said the technology would be a potential game changer the global avocado industry, which is currently experiencing a backlog of plant orders until 2020.

“At present, to supply new trees, the avocado industry follows the same process they have for the last 40 years, which is to take cuttings from high quality trees and root them,” Mitter said. “However, this is a cumbersome, labour and resource intensive process, as it takes about 18 months from the cutting stage to having a plant for sale, which creates a huge bottleneck for nurseries across the globe in the number of trees that they can supply trees to growers."

The non-GM and environmentally friendly technology, however, can grow and root multiple avocado plants from the shoot tip of an existing plant.

“[With the new technology] ten-thousand plants can be generated in a 10m2 room on a soil-less media,” Mitter said.

More than 600 plants developed by the stem cell multiplication method will be tested at different sites across Australia, with the research team also looking into whether heat-adapted avocado trees can grow alongside banana plants.

The Queensland Alliance for Agriculture & Food Innovation is a UQ research institute, with funding from the Queensland government.

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