National papaya breeding and evaluation program (PP18000)
What’s it all about?
New red and yellow papaya varieties are continuing to be bred and evaluated under this program, which follows on from the investment New genetic targets to improve quality in papaya (PP15000). The research team is focused on delivering new elite, genetically stable cultivars that meet the needs of growers and the preferences of consumers, and that are adapted to key growing areas in northern Queensland, including the Tableland and coastal regions. The ultimate goal is to expand the marketability and profitability of the Australian papaya industry.
Following the investment Technical review of the national papaya breeding and evaluation program (PP18002), new recommendations have been incorporated into PP18000. This has seen sensory work added as a new component, which involves using professional taste panels and flavour mapping in collaboration with the University of Queensland, to support the development of premium varieties and drive consumer acceptability and preference for Australian papaya.
There review also recommended work to access more international germplasms to broaden genetic diversity, especially in red-fleshed varieties.
The project team are progressing their efforts in key areas of this long-term investment.
Advanced breeding of red and yellow papayas
A questionnaire was delivered to industry to gain a better understanding of production costs, from field preparation to transport to wholesale. Interviews with fruit agents were conducted at Brisbane market to also understand marketers’ perspectives on the preferred characteristics to increase fruit sale. This information was then consolidated to formulate a weighted selection index for papaya breeding targeting fruit quality.
Breeding lines were selected from trees at two trial sites where the trees exhibited fruit set lower to the ground, a trait required for ease of harvest and higher yield.
The selected trees were subsequently self-pollinated to produce F5 generations. These will be evaluated, selected, and self-pollinated to produce F6 generations by the end of 2020, towards F7 seed being produced by 2021.
The project team is collaborating with the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAFF) to evaluate common major papaya field diseases for the new advanced breeding lines.
Flavour and sensory analysis by trained panel
The project team has partnered with the Centre for Nutrition and Food Science within Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) at the University of Queensland to identify flavour profiles of the main commercial varieties and the new breeding lines.
Two sensory studies were successfully carried out over two harvest periods in September 2019 (winter/spring fruit) and January 2020 (summer fruit) with the key findings to inform the breeding program.
To protect the newly developed genetically stable varieties, Plant Breeders’ Rights (PBR) will be applied for selected F7 lines.
Read more about this program in the project updates published in the Papaya Press magazine:
- Discovering sweet genes in papaya on page 5 of Issue 2, November 2018
- New varieties part of the long game for papaya industry, on page 8 of Issue 3, May 2019
- Papaya breeding program update: Putting flavour front and centre, on page 4 of Issue 4, November 2019.
This project is a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Papaya Fund