The Avocado Research Programme (ARP; previously the Fruit Tree Biotechnology Programme) was established in 2008 as a collaborative initiative between the Hans Merensky Foundation, Westfalia Technological Services and researchers from the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI). The programme is headed by Professor Noёlani van den Berg, with a major research focus on avocado tree health.
Research conducted within ARP aims to elucidate molecular plant-pathogen interactions in avocado response to the root rot pathogen Phytophthora cinnamomi, identification and characterisation of avocado defense genes and P. cinnamomi effector genes, as well as transcriptome sequencing. ARP has recently also undertaken research on the white root rot pathogen of avocado, Rosellinia necatrix and is currently conducting a survey to establish the extent of Ambrosia beetle occurrence in avocado orchards and determine which fungal symbionts are carried by these beetles.
The ARP research is supported by grants from the Hans Merensky Foundation, the National Research Foundation (NRF) as well as the Technology and Human capacity for Industry Programme (THRIP).