Author: Mary Lu Arpaia

Traditional avocado breeding programs have been successful in producing new varieties with favorable characteristics. However, in practice, these breeding programs are a time consuming and a costly endeavor. The high cost of the breeding program is attributed to the fact that majority of the trees that are selected are eventually discarded after being maintained for 5-10 years. Therefore, approaches to identify favorable varieties at an early stage of tree development would significantly reduce the breeding costs and increase the number of favorable varieties produced by the breeding program. Marker-assisted selection is aimed at reducing the costs the breeding programs by using molecular markers that predict favorable traits. The ability to predict favorable traits will allow breeders to select for trees at the seedling stage. 

This project provided funds to maintain the 2 mapping populations established by Dr. Michael Clegg (MC) just over 10 years ago. The mapping populations in California are one of the oldest mapping populations of avocado worldwide. Maintaining this valuable collection which has already been used to demonstrate marker assisted breeding (MAS) and has been genotyped by the USDA-ARS group in Miami is vital for the future plant improvement efforts in California. This collection will speed up the adoption of MAS strategies for avocado plant improvement in California.