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Avocados are Set to be Shipped off to Mars as Scientists Devise New Method to Preserve Food

Image for representation.

Image for representation.

The shoots are placed in an aluminum foil strip and then in a 'cryotube' before being stored in liquid nitrogen. The team says it takes about 20 minutes for the shoots to recover and within two months, the plants regrew leaves.

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Buzz Staff

Plant researchers from the University of Queensland have designed an ingenious method to preserve Avocado shoots and revive them later to grow into a healthy plants, thus enhancing their chances of being shipped off to Mars to whenever the world plans to go settle!

The shoots are placed in an aluminum foil strip and then in a 'cryotube' before being stored in liquid nitrogen. The team says it takes about 20 minutes for the shoots to recover and within two months, the plants regrew leaves, a Dail mail report said.

What is Cryopreserving?

Cryopreserving is a scientific procedure that allows cellular structures to remain intact. It is generally used to freeze sperm and eggs for IVF and egg-freezing treatments at temperatures around -320 degrees Fahrenheit.

The researchers' team, who have cryopreserved the shoots of different types of avocado plants,have found that there is an 80 per cent revival success rate with the Reed avocado type.

Director of the University's Centre for Horticultural Science 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.'

The research team had originally planned to find a method using which they could protect the supply of world's avocados, which usually face supply shortages.

University of Queensland PhD student Chris O'Brien, who helped to built the first important directives, said it takes about 20 minutes to recover the plant shoots and in about 2 months they have new leaves and are ready for rooting before beginning a life in the orchard."

O'Brien says the aim is to preserve important avocado cultivars and key genetic traits from possible destruction by threats like bushfires, pests and disease such as laurel wilt – a fungus which has the capacity to wipe out all the avocado germplasm in Florida.'

"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 of time, o'Brien added.

The researchers say their aim is to not only preserve the fruit, but they also wish to increase the supply for all. The process of cryopreservation method for avocados has been around since the past 40 years but this is the first time the scientists have managed to actually make a breakthrough in the experiment.

Normally used to preserve eggs and sperm, the method is often used to also keep safe plants including bananas, grape vines and apple.

O'Brien teamed up with Mitter and Dr. Raquel Folgado from The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in California to perfect the process.

Starting off with a clonal shoot tip developed from tissue culture propagation technology, (technique used to maintain plant cells), it allowed up to 500 avocado plants to grow from just one shoot-tip.

O'Brien said the fact that there was no set protocols made the team experiment with priming the tips with Vitamin C and used other pre-treatments like sucrose and cold temperature to prepare the cells and they ensured they got the optimal mixture and time points correct. After which, the group placed the shoot tips on an aluminum foil strip.

So far, the team has achieved 80 percent success in regrowing frozen Reed avocado plants and 60 percent with the Velvick cultivar.


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