From left to right: Dr Ian Bally, Dr Rajeev Varshney, Dr Alok Kumar, Dr David Innes, Dr Natalie Dillon.

Researchers have sequenced the genome of Australia’s most popular mango, the Kensington Pride, in a landmark milestone for the mango sector. Mangoes in the future will have more of the traits that we love, such as improved shelf life, good skin colour and appearance, and top quality Kensington Pride flavour.

Mrs Natasha Griggs, MP from Solomon officially announced the breaking news in mango research and officially opened the XIth International Mango symposium in Darwin on 29 September.

The research is led by an international collaboration between Horticulture Innovation Australia (Hort Innovation), Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), India and BGI-Shenzhen, China.

Hort Innovation CEO, John Lloyd said that Hort Innovation envisages the mango genome sequence will provide a platform that will allow research groups from all over the world to collaborate and develop new varieties, and is now possible for breeders to develop mango varieties with desirable traits.

“These traits will include anthracnose resistance, small tree size, high productivity, regular production without biennial bearing, improved shelf life, good skin colour and appearance, and top quality Kensington Pride flavour in relatively shorter time,” Mr Lloyd said.

“In general, it takes about 15–20 years to breed a new variety of mango. Deployment of genome sequence in mango breeding is expected to improve breeding efficiency and reduce the time needed to identify trees with traits of interest.”

Mrs Griggs said the research will reduce the breeding cycle to half and will increase mango research activity exponentially.

“This landmark milestone will be remembered as an Australian contribution to the global mango community and will have tremendous benefits to mango growers,” Mrs Griggs said.

“It is a great honour to have announced that an Australian led international consortium has reached a significant milestone in genomics research in mango.”

Genomics Center Director, ICRISAT, Mr Rajeev Varshney explained a genome is a blueprint of all heritable traits of an organism. Availability of genome sequence of Kensington Pride will provide the genes related to its unique flavour.

“The research will provide insight into the structure, organisation and evolution of a highly heterozygous horticultural tree crop, widely grown in the tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world,” Mr Varshney said.

Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland Principal Horticulturist, Dr Ian Bally said achieving the milestone for Kensington Pride will enable more easily identifiable genes for important complex production and quality traits.

“These traits will include yield, disease, pest resistance or abiotic stress tolerance. It will also speed up our breeding by developing molecular markers for phenotypic traits for marker assisted selection,” Dr Bally said.

This research into the Kensington Pride genome should be seen as a starting point for further research rather than an end in itself.