Whether you’re a millennial saving for a house, or a café connoisseur who can’t resist a cheeky smashed avo for brunch, chances are you’ve heard of the global avocado shortage.
With prices soaring as the demand for the fatty fruit rises around the world, researchers at UQ are about to become the heroes we not only need, but the ones we deserve.
A team lead by Professor Neena Mitter has used plant stem cell research to create a world first, cutting-edge system of growing avocados at twice the rate it currently takes avocados to grow on a farm.
Right now, the process to grow avocado trees is complex, can take up to 18 months and a successful tree is made from three different plants.
Researchers at UQ have devised a method to use less than a 0.1mm piece of plant material to produce around 500 plants.
Instead of relying on seeds to grow the plants, this new method works by taking a small piece of plant tissue which contains many different cells — each cell in this sample then has the capacity to grow one single plant.
The small buds produced in the lab are placed in a special growth solution developed at UQ, which encourages the plants to shoot and root. No land is required, meaning there’s no need for pesticides or fertilisers.
Not only have the researchers at UQ, or should we say miracle workers, made a huge leap for avocado lovers around the world, they have discovered a way to make robust stock in faster and fewer steps.
Currently, 20,000 avocado plants are growing in a tiny, 20-square metre room at St Lucia. These plants have are not dependent on seasons or seed supply and the lab predicts that they will produce resilient stock in just nine months.
The innovative method is set to double Queensland’s avocado production and has received a grant through the Advance Queensland Innovation Program to support this work.
While more avocado trees around the world seems like the best possible outcome, this technology also has the potential to generate new jobs and lead to huge industry and economic growth.
Let’s avo high-five for this ground-breaking research straight out of UQ (and into the mouths of some hungry avocado lovers!).