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"Avocado Analysis" -- The Discovery Files

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Scientists have sequenced the avocado genome, shedding light on the ancient origins of this buttery fruit and laying the groundwork for future improvements to farming. The study reveals for the first time that the popular Hass avocado inherited about 61% of its DNA from Mexican varieties and about 39% from Guatemalan ones. The research also provides vital reference material for learning about the function of individual avocado genes, and for using genetic engineering to boost productivity of avocado trees, improve disease resistance and create fruit with new tastes and textures.

Credit: NSF/Karson Productions

Audio Transcript:

Wholly guacamole.

I'm Bob Karson with the Discovery Files, from the National Science Foundation.

(Sound effect: Mexican restaurant sounds) At the heart of that yummy tableside guac you just ordered is the amazing avocado. Here in the U.S. most likely the popular "Haas" variety -- first planted in the 1920s and over the last hundred years or so, grown with cuttings grafted onto various rootstock adapted for particular geographic regions. So, your Haas avocado today (Sound effect: 1920s music) is genetically exactly the same as one served at a fancy dinner party during the Flapper era.

Led by the National Laboratory of Genomics for Biodiversity in Mexico, Texas Tech, and the University at Buffalo, researchers have sequenced the avocado genome. Turns out your Haas avocado gets about 61 percent of its DNA from Mexican varieties, and most of the rest from Guatemalan ones. More important, the team's study lays the foundation for the species' improvement. It could help boost productivity of avocado trees, improve disease resistance, even help create new tastes and textures.

Every year, the U.S. produces about 300 million of the guac-rockin' green fruit -- yeah they're a fruit. Genomic tools will make it possible to create faster and more effective breeding programs, and ultimately better avocados.

I'll dip to that. (Sound effect: crunch!)

"The discovery files" covers projects funded by the government's National Science Foundation. Federally sponsored research -- brought to you, by you! Learn more at nsf.gov or on our podcast.

 
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