The pawpaw, whose scientific name is Asimina triloba, is an exotic fruit native to the southern and central parts of the United States. It belongs to the custard apple family (anonaceae), which stands out for its striking colors and very sweet flavor, "a bit alike to those of bananas, mangoes and pineapples," and for being able to grow in cold areas, where it can withstand temperatures of up to -20 ºC.
The team formed by Iñaki Hormaza, CSIC Research Professor; Jorge Lora, senior scientist at CSIC, and Cristina Ferrer, a PhD student, has been working for more than three years at the IHSM La Mayora CSIC-UMA, studying the reproduction of pawpaw to learn about the fruit's potential. At the moment, it is only grown locally because it is a very delicate fruit.
This group of researchers has sequenced the pawpaw genome in a project funded by Harvard University. The objective is "to learn about its characteristics," which make it so unique compared to the rest of anonaceae that are grown in hot climates.
The CSIC Head Scientist said that the institute has already carried out a study on the reproductive biology of the custard apple and on the pollination and development of the flower, and that they want to use this knowledge in the study of pawpaw. Lora said that with this previous study, they seek to find out "which varieties of pawpaw are better for production in Spain, and which will be better adapted to the cold."
This crop is "an alternative" for areas in the upper Axarquia or in the interior of the peninsula, where "subtropical cultivation is not possible" because of the colder climates. However, with the pawpaw, they could obtain fruits with an exotic flavor.