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Researchers of USP finalize the genetic improvement of sweet passion fruit


The yellow passion fruit is the most consumed by Brazilians, presenting a sour and acid flavor. However, depending on the genetic improvement research at USP, the sweet passion fruit (Passiflora alata) will soon be occupying more spaces in the stands of the fairs, grocery stores, and supermarkets. Studies conducted since 2005 have now reached promising results. The new genetically improved fruits have a higher amount of pulp, thinner skin, and increased crop productivity. Professor Maria Lucia Carneiro Vieira, from the Genetics Department at USP's Luiz de Queiroz School of Agriculture (Esalq), in Piracicaba, led the research team.

The results of the research represent higher profits for Brazilian fruit growers since the prices of these fruits, which are in the exotic category, reach three times more than the prices of sour passion fruit. An article on the latest results was published on PLoS ONE Improving research resources and fruit quality in sweet passion fruit: genotype detection by interaction in the environment and selection of promising genotypes in May. The Dissertation Genetic Studies in a segregating sweet passion fruit population selected for fruit quality (Estudos genéticos em uma população segregante de maracujá-doce selecionada para qualidade de frutos), written by Lourdes Chavarría Perez, advisee of Maria Lucia, details the subject.

In Brazil, the cultivation of passion fruit is comprised almost entirely by the sour cultivar, which covers approximately 90% of all orchards. The cultivation of sweet passion fruit is limited by the instability of fruit quality from one crop to the next; as well as by the lack of genetic studies that would result in improved varieties and meet consumer needs in terms of quality and yield. Based on these issues, researchers in the field of genetics and plant breeding at Esalq committed themselves to find the solution.

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