Sequencing of the human genome — the complete set of DNA our bodies need to develop and direct our activities — was completed in 2003. Now it’s the avocado’s turn.
The global market for avocados was worth about $13 billion in 2017. That’s a lot of guacamole, sushi, and of course avocado toast — which continues to be incredibly trendy.
What does the new knowledge of the avocado’s genetic makeup mean? Mapping its DNA will “[shed] light on the ancient origins of this buttery fruit and [lay] the groundwork for future improvements to farming,” according to a statement from the University of Buffalo, one of the participants in the avocado study.
Working with scientists from the National Laboratory of Genomics for Biodiversity (LANGEBIO) in Irapuato, Mexico, and Texas Tech University in Lubbock, researchers in Buffalo determined that the ubiquitous Hass avocado — grown more than any other variety worldwide — inherited about 61% of its DNA from Mexican varieties and about 39% from Guatemalan ones.
In addition to the three main institutions involved, the research team included scientists from some 15 other universities and institutes in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
The team’s findings will permit genetic engineering of the avocado to boost productivity, improve disease resistance, and create examples of the fruit with new flavors and textures.
There are already plenty of delicious avocados on the market, of course, as long as you learn how to choose the best examples — and here are tips on how to pick the best produce.
In addition to sequencing the Hass, the study also encompassed Mexican and Guatemalan cultivars as well as those from the West Indies — all of which are genetically distinct.
As a result of the genome sequencing, consumers should be able to look for more and maybe better avocados in the years to come. They certainly won’t be on a list of foods people don’t like any time soon, unlike other once popular foods — these are the biggest food fads of the past 50 years.