Genetic research could stop avos going brown

Avocados are famous for having a frustratingly short period of consumption. They’re hard as rocks for a while and as soon as you try to eat one, they’ve turned to brown mush.

Some researchers are trying to change this by taking a closer look at the fruit’s genes. Doing an analysis of an avocado’s transcriptome, which represents the small portion of genetic code that’s transcribed to RNA molecules, could help researchers manipulate the firmness of the fruit and the rate at which they ripen according to

Michael Gribskov, a professor of biological sciences at Purdue University, recently received a Fulbright Scholar Award to conduct research at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Bogotá. Gribskov will study the genes of several economically important Colombian crops, including avocados, cacao and rice, to improve the varieties, ramp up production and potentially increase opportunities for exporting them.

“With genomics and transcriptomics, we’re looking at how an organism’s genes are being turned on and off in response to different things. In avocados, we want to know how the genes are being turned on and off during the ripening of the fruit,” Gribskov said. “The hope is that this research can be used to develop new varieties of fruit that might have different commercial applications.”

Roughly 80 percent of the avocados U.S. residents consume are imported, with the rest coming mostly from California. Avocados are the second largest fruit export from Mexico to the U.S., after only tomatoes. But while the U.S. and Mexico are sorting out their trade disagreements, other countries are eyeing the opportunity.

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