FABI hosted a special seminar by Drs Enrique Ibarra-Laclette and Claudia-Anahí Perez-Torres from the Instituto de Ecología (Institute of Ecology) in Xalapa, Mexico, on October 14. The two researchers are in FABI by invitation of research leader of the Fruit Tree Biotechnology Programme, Professor Noëlani van den Berg.

In his presentation "The Avocado genome: A progress report", Dr Ibarra-Laclette discussed the importance of genome sequencing of Persea americana, which is native to Mexico and Central America, and Persea schiedean. Both variants are economically important to Mexico and are exported to other countries. Avocado is Mexico’s second most important commecially cultivated crop next to maize, with most of the consumption being domestic.

Dr Perez-Torres, whose area of expertise includes cellular and molecular biology as well as the genetics of plants, presented a lecture titled: "Phosphorus uptake in plants: Perspective for the near future". She discussed the need for alternatives to the use of phosphorus in fertilisers because of the exhaustion of phosphoric rock, a non-renewable resource that could be depleted in less than 100 years. Her research also seeks to better understand the mechanism of P uptake by plants which will in turn lead to more efficient fertilisers being developed.