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To optimise texture and flavour in stored apples using a genomics approach - HH3725STF

Consumers and retailers require that all horticultural produce meet the highest standards for quality, reliability and availability. However, predicting and optimising the quality of stored fruit and maximising shelf life pose major problems to the industry, both in the UK and overseas. Currently, to extend the marketing of apple and other climacteric fruits, ripening processes are retarded by the use of refrigeration and controlled atmosphere (CA) storage. Approximately 80% of commercial UK apples are placed in CA each year. However, CA storage does not always provide adequate storage life and quality. In particular, problems associated with poor texture and flavour of stored fruit continue to beset the industry. Moreover, the energy and economic inputs into refrigerated CA storage are not consistent with Defra policy for the sustainable use of natural resources. The main objective of this project is to improve the texture and flavour attributes of stored apples, the two major components of consumer preference for eating quality in apples. We will identify softening-related genes and develop molecular markers for textural components that will be used in East Malling's Apple and Pear Breeding Club programme to aid marker-assisted selection of lines with improved fruit quality. We will determine whether low stringency storage (in air at higher than recommended temperatures) of apple lines with a heritable trait for low ethylene production can be used as an alternative to CA storage to maintain fruit texture and flavour. We will also determine whether these lines can be harvested over a longer period than is possible for existing cultivars. With reduced labour availability, it is increasingly important to be able to extend the harvesting period but without compromising fruit quality and storage potential. Further, we will raise progenies exploiting novel lines with useful storage characteristics for a future Horticulture LINK project. Apples with improved storage characteristics will eventually facilitate the use of less stringent, more sustainable storage regimes that optmise fruit quality. Improved post-storage quality of UK produced apples (valued at £59m in 2002) would also help reduce imports (valued at £251m in 2002). Approaches and resources developed in HH1022, HH1029, HH2606 and 237/3 H10 150LOF (Horticulture LINK) now provide exciting opportunities for the genetic improvement of apple fruit quality. At East Malling, these resources include an apple expressed sequence tags (ESTs) library developed in previous Defra-funded projects, several apple progenies that segregate for quality components such as texture, varieties with a reduced capability to soften and state-of-the-art analytical, molecular and storage facilities. This project will complement and extend the apple texture component of HH3701SX currently being undertaken by our colleagues at HRI, Wellesbourne, in collaboration with staff at East Malling. This proposal addresses Defra objectives within ROAME A HH36 'Sustainable Use of Natural Resource & Labour' and HH37 'Adaptable supply of quality fruit and vegetables and ornamentals.' Specifically, the project delivers to:1) science objectives listed in ROAME A HH36, that include breeding for improved sustainability and understanding key physiological processes.2) science objectives listed in ROAME A HH37, that include improved quality, scheduling and storage.3) technology and knowledge transfer objectives listed in ROAME A HH38 to ensure that the results of Defra's horticulture R&D programmes are available to, and used by, growers.Deliverables for the industry will be in the form of specific markers to be used in targeted genetic improvement of post-harvest quality attributes and the development of low stringency storage regimes.By the end of this project we will have:● Developed microsatellite markers for softening-related genes and mapped them onto the apple genetic linkage map.● Assessed the potential of using sustainable, low stringency storage regimes to optimise both texture and flavour of lines with a low ethylene trait, without reliance on CA storage and chemicals.● Identified microsatellite markers linked to 'non ACS1-2 traits' determining ethylene production to aid marker-assisted selection.● Raised novel breeding lines with different propensities to soften to facilitate future research into quality attributes of stored fruit.● Transferred the results of the project to the grower community through workshops and the trade press and to the academic community through peer-reviewed publications in international scientific journals.● Assembled a consortium to develop a project proposal to Horticulture LINK.East Malling is uniquely placed to aid Defra in its perception and vision of future needs for UK horticulture and the environment. We are able to offer an un-rivalled combination of analytical, molecular and storage facilities together with unique apple germplasm with altered capacities for softening. Our expertise in post-harvest biology, molecular physiology, molecular genetics and plant breeding will ensure the successful completion of this project. Our long-term goal is the production of quality produce that meets consumer requirements, thereby increasing the competitiveness and profitability of the UK industry.
1) To use an apple EST library to develop markers for softening-related genes and to map these to the apple genetic linkage map.2) To determine expression of softening-related ESTs in apple lines with different softening characteristics.3) To use several low and very low ethylene producing lines to determine the potential of using refrigeration at higher than normal temperatures, with less stringent CA storage, to optimise texture, flavour production and alleviate storage disorders.4) To identify microsatellite markers linked to 'non ACS1-2 traits' determining ethylene production to aid marker-assisted selection in the industry-funded breeding programme.5) To raise new progenies derived from cultivars contrasting for a range of good storage attributes for future mapping of these traits to permit marker-assisted selection in the industry-funded breeding programme.6) To communicate the results of this study to the grower and academic communities and to develop a Horticulture LINK consortium to facilitate effective technology transfer to the horticultural industry.
Project Documents
• Final Report : To optimise texture and flavour in stored apples using a genomic approach   (438k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2004

To: 2008

Cost: £556,994
Contractor / Funded Organisations
East Malling Research
Allocated - EMR              
Sustainable Farming and Food              
Sustainable Production              
Fields of Study