The Institute of Subtropical and Mediterranean Horticulture La Mayora CSIC-UMA has started a research project with the support of the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, through which it aims to improve the vascular system of trees to increase their resistance to drought in the framework of climate change.
Researcher Juan Losada, in charge of the project, said that research is being carried out on two cherimoya varieties and two mango varieties. The goal is to obtain "varieties of these fruit trees that have a certain resistance to drought conditions, thereby helping optimize the use of water while ensuring stable productions."
Crosses are being made between the cherimoya varieties "Fino de jete" and "Thai Seedless", and between the mango varieties "Winter" and "Kensington". The objective is to improve the trees' vascular systems and make them more efficient in the carrying of nutrients to the fruit.
This research is based on the idea that plants, in the course of evolution, have doubled and even tripled their number of chromosomes, which has given them the ability to adapt to stress conditions, such as drought.
Through the crossing of cherimoya trees of varieties found in the germplasm bank of the Institute of Horticulture, fruit trees have been obtained "with the usual number of chromosomes, and others that have doubled or tripled them in a natural way." These are studied "in controlled conditions with different irrigation conditions."
In these specimens, Losada is measuring physiological parameters "in order to find out how the plants behave depending on how they are irrigated." He also looks at anatomical features "to check the behaviour of the microscopic veins that carry all the nutrients to the fruits" in different circumstances.
The research also aims to help "preserve natural resources," such as water; a scarce commodity and one of the main sources of concern for the agricultural and environmental sector.