A new breeding project is hoping to “reboot” the Australian passionfruit industry by looking into new varieties suitable for the country’s climate conditions, and consumer trends, Good Fruit & Vegetables reports.
The Australian passionfruit industry produces about 5,000 tons of fruit for an estimated yearly value of $24 million. There are roughly 130 commercial growers in the country.
However, the sector has experienced declining yields, as current varieties have shown susceptibility to diseases and pests.
This brought researchers to look into new cultivars, hoping to release at least two new varieties in the coming years.
“The aim is to create new opportunities and boost profitability for growers. Most of the passionfruit grown in Australia is for domestic consumption, so there is scope to start exporting the fruit as well,” Dr. Alam tells the publication.
Dr. Alam and his team are looking into germplasm from Brazil to identify passionfruit genetic resources and determine what improvement can be introduced in new varieties.
The concept of “germplasm” refers to genetic resources such as seeds, tissues, and DNA sequences.
Local industry groups and growers have already shown interest in the initiative, and are working with Dr. Alam to establish trials of new variety candidates in Queensland and New South Wales.
“We aim to integrate advanced technologies and explore new opportunities to ensure continuous delivery of new high performing and profitable varieties for Australian industry,” he adds.