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Avocados can be cryogenically frozen and shipped to MARS, say experts who revived frozen shoots

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Avocados can be cryogenically frozen and shipped to MARS, say experts who revived frozen shoots to regrow healthy plants

  • Scientists have cryopreserved the shoots of avocado plants for the first time
  • The team was able to revive them and leaves sprouted within two months
  • They placed the shoots in an aluminum foil strip and then in a ‘cryotube’ 
  • Tubes were stored in liquid nitrogen and it only takes 20 minutes to normalize
  •  The team achieved 80% success in regrowing frozen Reed avocado plants

By Stacy Liberatore For Dailymail.com

Published: | Updated:

Hollywood has suggested that space faring heroes living on Mars will have a menu of just potatoes, but scientists are working on a way to add avocados to the list.

Researchers at the University of Queensland have designed a method that cryopreserves the shoots and revive them later to grow a healthy plant.

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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Researchers at the University of Queensland have designed a method that cryopreserves the shoots and revive them later to grow a healthy plant (pictured)

Professor Neena Mitter: ‘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 team set out on this mission to find a solution to protect the world’s supplies of avocados, which are commonly face shortages throughout the year and around the world.

Mitter joked saying 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.’

This is the first time scientists have successfully created a cryopreservation method for avocados – something that has been in the works for more than 40 years.

Hollywood has suggested that space faring heroes living on Mars will have a menu of just potatoes, but scientists are working on a way to add avocados to the list (stock) 

University of Queensland PhD student Chris O’Brien, who developed the first critical steps, said:’ 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.’

Pictured is the move ‘The Martian,’ as Matt Damon’s character is on Mars farming potatoes 

Cryopreservation is typically used to freeze sperm and eggs, which is stored at -320 degrees Fahrenheit.

However, the process has also been used on other 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 his technique.

They began with a clonal shoot tip developed from tissue culture propagation technology, which is a technique used to maintain plant cells.

This allowed up to 500 avocado plants to grow from just one shoot-tip.

However, O’Brien said the initial work resulted in the team sifting through brown mush.

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

‘There was no protocol so I experimented with priming the tips with Vitamin C, and used other pre-treatments like sucrose and cold temperature to prepare the cells – it was a question of trial and error to get the optimal mixture and correct time points,’ he said.

After some trial and error, the group placed the shoot tips on an aluminum foil strip.

This was key to allowing it to quickly cool and rewarm without becoming a slush.

And then the strips were put into ‘cryotubes’ that were stored in liquid nitrogen.

‘It takes about 20 minutes to recover them,’ Mr O’Brien said.

‘In about two months they have new leaves and are ready for rooting before beginning a life in the orchard.’

The team achieved 80 percent success in regrowing frozen Reed avocado plants and 60 percent with the Velvick cultivar.

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