Geneticists working in Central Mexico have mapped the genome of the blue agave, a desert plant used to make tequila.

A research team led by June Simpson Williamson said on Thursday that it took them six years to sequence 35,000 genes in Agave tequilana Weber.

The team has identified four or five genes which could be used to manipulate the agave's flowering and maturity process, something that could boost tequila production.

 

Plants in the agave family die after producing a flowering stem, and slowing the progress toward flowering gives the plants a longer productive life.

Other liquors are made using relatives of the blue agave, but only products of the sequenced plant distilled in the western Mexican state Jalisco can be called tequila.

The project could also help identify other productive processes in the plant, including the production of herbal medicine, Williamson said.