Recently, a group of scientists from the U.S. and Mexico announced the mapping of the DNA sequence of the several types of avocados, including the Hass variety. This study will be the basis for breeding techniques and genetic modification, intended for the production of avocados that can resist diseases or to survive in more arid conditions.
“In the future, climate change could affect temperature and humidity. They will differ from habitual to us. Change can also and the quality of the soil. There will be new insects and diseases. We must be ready to deal with all of these inescapable challenges,” said the Professor of plant genomics at Texas tech University, who led the project avocado, Luis Herrera-Estrella.
However, genetic studies are likely to be controversial. Although 90% of scientists believe that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) safe for human consumption, a plurality of groups of environmental protection opposes genetic modifications. They argue that this practice has led to the increased use of pesticides, and undesirable changes in food.
The CRISPR avocado project started in 2012, when the researchers received a grant of $2.5 million from the Ministry of agriculture of Mexico. However, three years later, the government refused to renew funding.
Researchers are also faced with academic difficulties.
“Analyze the genetic material of avocado is like to glue together a document that has passed through a paper shredder,” said Dr. Herrera-Estrella.