Avocados may soon go to Mars with our astronauts! Scientists are working to find how they can send the tropical fruit to outer space. The researchers at the University of Queensland have designed a method that cryopreserves the shoots and later revive them to a healthy plant. The team says it takes about 20 minutes for the shoots to recover and the plants will regrow leaves within two months. The shoots are placed in an aluminium foil strip and then in a 'cryotube' before being stored in liquid nitrogen. The aim of this project is to preserve avocado from possible destruction like bushfires, pets and diseases that may wipe out avocado germplasm in Florida. NASA Planning to Send Robot Bees to Mars for Exploration, Know All About 'Marsbees'.
PhD student Chris O'Brien was quoted as saying, "Liquid nitrogen does not require any electricity to maintain its temperature, so by successfully freeze avocado germplasm, it's an effective way of preserving clonal plant material for an indefinite period."
The team started the project as a solution to protect the world's supplies of avocados, which faces shortages throughout the year across countries. Professor Neena Mitter was quoted as saying, "I suppose you could say they are space-age avocados – ready to be cryo-frozen and shipped to Mars when human flight becomes possible." She said that their work is not only about protecting the fruit, but also 'ensuring we meet the demand of current and future generations for their smashed 'avo' on toast.' Do You Want to Go to Mars With Brad Pitt?
This is the first time scientists have successfully created a cryopreservation method for avocados which they have working on, for about 40 years now. Cryopreservation is typically used to freeze sperm and eggs and stored at -320 degrees Fahrenheit. Te process has also been used on other plants including bananas, grapevines and apple.
They began with a clonal shoot tip that was developed from tissue culture propagation technology. It is a technique used to maintain plant cells. After some trial and error, the team achieved 80 percent success in regrowing frozen Reed avocado plants and 60 percent with the Velvick cultivar.
(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Sep 24, 2020 09:57 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).