Breeding for Postharvest Quality in Flowers and Vegetables

Breeding for Postharvest Quality in Flowers and Vegetables

Organisatie-onderdeel

WR-cap TU

Projectcode

LWV19130

MMIP

Landbouw, Water, Voedsel>Sleuteltechnologieën LWV>Biotechnologie en Veredeling

Startdatum

01/03/20

Einddatum

31/12/23

Samenvatting

Water loss is a major determinant of postharvest shelf life. Horticultural products contain 80-95% water and a few percent of water loss will have an immediate effect on product quality. It is a major cause of postharvest losses. Some of the current trends for more sustainable fresh chains may have a negative impact on a product’s capacity to retain water, or may require an improved control over water loss. Examples of these trends are cultivation techniques using less energy, alternative transport methods like transport by sea, and reduction of plastic packaging.

To meet the demands of society for a sustainable production and a reduction of food waste, future cultivars should not only have high yield, good taste and resistance to (a)biotic stresses, but also resistance to water stress, which prevails in the postharvest chain. Currently there is a gap in our knowledge about traits of importance for postharvest performance and methodologies to screen in high throughput for such traits.

Improved cultivar selection is proposed to be key in maintaining quality of chrysanthemums, peppers and cucumbers in sustainable chains. New methods are needed for high-throughput screening of post-harvest traits related to water loss.

Partners in this consortium want to develop knowledge and methods to develop germplasm better suited to the new (future) demands to:
• Deliver products of high level quality in a sustainable supply chain
• Support the transition to more sustainable ways of production (“Next Generation Cultivation”) and transportation (sea-transport)
• Reduce the need for plastic packaging materials
• Prevent product losses along the distribution chain up to the consumer
• Improve value experience by consumers through delivery of high quality products from a sustainable production-distribution chain

The objectives of this project are (i) to investigate the physiological, biochemical and genetic basis of processes involved in resistance to water loss, (ii) to apply this knowledge by developing high throughput and objective screening methods for crops like chrysanthemum, cucumber and pepper and (iii) to validate these methods in company’s germplasm. The knowledge and tools will come together in a toolkit, enabling breeding of cultivars resistant to water loss. The project team consists of a unique consortium of academic researchers form Wageningen UR and major flower- and vegetable- breeding companies. The ultimate goal is to work towards high quality cultivars with improved control of water loss.

Doel van het project

The objectives of this project will allow breeding companies to breed for products better suited for the adverse conditions in the postharvest chain thereby reducing postharvest (food) losses, supporting the use of transport modes with reduced CO2 footprint and supporting the reduction of plastic packaging. Besides that, it gives the horticultural sector the possibility to further implement circular and sustainable production systems and improve value experience of fresh produce and ornamentals by consumers. By doing this it adds to mission A targets circular agriculture and Mission D, valued, healthy and safe food.

The project contributes to the AWF key technology “MMIP S2 Biotechnology & Breeding” by developing new phenotyping methods (ST6) ( in order to meet new sustainable demands in the fresh supply chain. And also it will work on ST1 Genome Technology.

Relatie met missie (Motivatie)

Water loss is a major determinant of postharvest shelf life. Horticultural products contain 80-95% water and a few percent of water loss will have an immediate effect on product quality. It is a major cause of postharvest losses. Some of the current trends for more sustainable fresh chains may have a negative impact on a product’s capacity to retain water, or may require an improved control over water loss. Examples of these trends are cultivation techniques using less energy, alternative transport methods like transport by sea, and reduction of plastic packaging.

To meet the demands of society for a sustainable production and a reduction of food waste, future cultivars should not only have high yield, good taste and resistance to (a)biotic stresses, but also resistance to water stress, which prevails in the postharvest chain. Currently there is a gap in our knowledge about traits of importance for postharvest performance and methodologies to screen in high throughput for such traits.

Geplande acties

The main innovation is the delivery of a breeding toolkit to enable breeding of cultivars resistant to water loss. This breeding toolkit consists of:
Year 1-2
- Knowledge of the physiological and biochemical processes related to water loss including answers to the questions “how do the processes work?” and “can we influence them to breed for novel cultivars?”.
- Identification of measurable subtraits related to water loss (transpiration) (e.g. number of stomata, stomata functionality, wax layer, cuticle, xylem vessel system architecture, etc.).
- Identification of the genetic variation of one or more subtraits related to postharvest water loss.
Year 2-3-4
- Germplasm variants with efficient control of water loss to use as parents in mapping populations.
- Identification of QTLs and/or candidate genes for one or more subtraits which are based on one to two physiological routes.
- In case subtraits are based on 1-2 physiological routes; proof of principle for the involvement of specific genes and physiological processes in postharvest performance (e.g. by CRISPR cas-9 technology).
- Development of quantitatively measurable biomarkers based on one or more subtraits related to postharvest water loss.
- Objective screening methods to phenotype water loss (transpiration), based on one or two (bio-markers related to sub-traits of water loss.
- New validated HTP tools for phenotyping the sub-traits of interest (e.g. chlorophyll fluorescence imaging, NIR, hyperspectral imaging, metabolite and volatile profiling)

Results of experiments will be communicated to partners in meetings and yearly reports.
The toolkit at the end will consist of reports/documents containing information on gained insights on traits and water loss mechanism and descriptions of methods/genes

Naam projectleider

Ernst Woltering