Researchers Just Unlocked the Avocado Genome—Which May Lead to Lower Prices & Better Avocados
This may not mean much for your avocado toast just yet, but new farming techniques could reduce avocado prices and create new avocado flavors. Here's why we're so excited.
Pictured Above: Avocado Toast with Burrata
We all love them, and for good reason. Avocados are the trend that isn't going anywhere. However, until now, we didn't know the whole story. Researchers have finally decoded the DNA of this tasty fruit (or is it a vegetable?). This could mean lower avocado prices, more variety and even new flavors coming to a grocery store near you. If you couldn't already tell, we are excited. Here's why you should be too.
Related: 4 Healthy Reasons to Eat Avocados
History of Avocados
We don't know exactly how old avocados are, but they've been around for a long time. They are part of a group of plants called magnoliids, and are related to plants like magnolias and cinnamon. It's thought that, in prehistoric times, avocados and their pits were eaten by giant sloths, which helped the seeds make their way across the globe. (Yes, for real).
In more recent history, avocados have been enjoyed by humans for centuries. They have been a mainstay of Southern and Central American cuisine since Aztec rule. But the creamy, green veg only rose to global popularity in the mid 20th century. Nowadays, the avocado craze is real. Global avocado agriculture was worth over $13 billion annually as of 2017.
Pictured Above: Pineapple & Avocado Salad
At the University of Buffalo, researchers have been hard at work unlocking the secrets of the avocado. Their efforts, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) journal. led to the full sequencing of an avocado genome. For the fan-favorite Hass avocado, they found that 61% of its genome stems from Mexican varieties and the remaining 39% comes from Guatemalan varieties. They also studied a few other, less popular types of avocados from Mexico, Guatemala and the West Indies. For people who are surprised that there are different types of avocados, that is just the tip of the iceberg (check out 7 Types of Avocados You Probably Didn't Know Existed). These findings could help farmers better understand what they are growing and how to do it most effectively.
What's Next for Avocados?
These new findings aren't likely to change what you buy at the grocery store tomorrow, but they might in the future. Some new farming techniques derived from the study could boost productivity, speed up maturation and prevent disease in avocado plants. A better yield from a single tree means more avocados in the marketplace, which in turn, means lower prices.
Aside from more-affordable avocados, this technology could lead to genetic variations in the types of plants grown. Like being able to choose from different types of apples at the store, there could be more avocados to please every palate.
Currently, Hass avocado trees are grown by grafting an existing branch to form a new tree. Since there is no cross-breeding or variation between the species, we essentially have the same type of avocados that were grown in the 1920s. Variations could be made with new flavors or textures, geared towards how they will be used. Imagine: an avocado aisle at the grocery.
More diverse avocados could be beneficial to your wallet and your body, as well as to farmers and the booming avocado industry. Be on the lookout for the future of avocados-it could get interesting.