Passion project revitalising flagging fruit industry

4 July 2023

A new breeding strategy to reboot Australia’s passionfruit industry is being led by researchers at The University of Queensland.

The five-year project is funded by Hort Innovation and headed by Dr Mobashwer Alam from Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, who aims to create at least two new high-quality varieties of the fruit in the next few years with more to follow. 

 Megan Pope
Dr Mobashwer Alam at Arbour Grove Nursery, Woombye. Image: Megan Pope

“Passionfruit farm yield is declining, and we currently have only a few varieties available to the local industry,” Dr Alam said.

“These varieties are also increasingly susceptible to pest and disease, so the new varieties we develop will be resilient as and suited to the Australian consumer.

“The aim is to create new opportunities and boost profitability for growers.

“Most of the passionfruit grown in Australia is for domestic consumption, so there is scope to start exporting the fruit as well.”

The Australian passionfruit industry is worth around $24 million each year with about 130 commercial growers producing more than 5,000 tonnes of fruit.

Passionfruit is a good source of antioxidants, is high in fibre and contains high levels of vitamins C and A.

Dr Alam is working with industry groups and growers to establish trials of new variety candidates in Queensland and New South Wales.

“We don’t have a diverse range of germplasm in Australia, so my main purpose is to explore the potential of global germplasm,” he said.

“We are working with Murdoch University through another project funded through the Hort Innovation Frontiers initiative to investigate passionfruit genetic resources.

“We are using genomics to understand the diversity in Australia’s passionfruit and will explore the germplasm in Brazil to determine where we can make improvements.

“We aim to integrate advanced technologies and explore new opportunities to ensure continuous delivery of new high performing and profitable varieties for Australian industry.

“We aim to give growers confidence in new varieties and support growers with on farm production needs via new varieties developed through this project.”

Megan Crowhurst from Arbour Grove Nursery at Woombye on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast is working with Dr Alam to propagate root stock and graft trial vines, as well as assisting with cross breeding and vine production.

She said she was happy to use her lifelong passion for the fruit to boost the industry.

“This program is really important because the passionfruit industry hasn’t had a new variety that ticks all the boxes for a long time and to make it profitable, we need something new,” Mrs Crowhurst said.

“My family has been trying to produce new varieties for many years and it’s not an easy process, so it’s exciting to have the breeding program up and going again.”

The National Passionfruit Breeding and Evaluation program is funded by Hort Innovation, the Passionfruit levy and UQ, in collaboration with passionfruit growers.

Images and video are available via Dropbox.

Media: Dr Mobashwer Alam,, +61 407 925 991; Megan Crowhurst,, +61 417 622 908; QAAFI Media, Natalie MacGregor,, +61 409 135 651.

The Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation is a research institute at The University of Queensland supported by the Queensland Government via the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.