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Ongoing project

eDNA analysis of plant-pollinator relationships to improve Hass avocado production in south-west Western Australia (PH19007)

Key research provider: Curtin University

What's it all about?

Inadequate pollination has been identified as one of the main contributors impacting fruit production in avocados, an issue experienced in south-west Western Australia where avocados typically produce large numbers of flowers but consistently yield low crops.

This project is using a method known as eDNA metabarcoding to determine which insect species and native plants are supporting successful avocado pollination. This approach uses small regions of DNA which have low intraspecific variation (that is, variation within a species) but high interspecific variation (that is, variation between different species), to allow for identification at the species level. By classifying pollinators and the plants upon which they rely, this research has the potential to identify and protect relevant co-plant species which support these economically important orchards.

This work will predominantly be undertaken by a PhD student at Curtin University and will work closely with the Hort Frontiers Pollination Fund project Managing flies for crop pollination (PH16002). The addition of eDNA methods to that project will provide greater insight into the important pollinators of avocados in south-west Western Australia.