Food production and processing, and enhanced food composition

  • Dr Carol Wagstaff
  • Dr Laura Graham
  • Ben Cruickshank (PhD student)
  • 3 PhD students starting Oct 09
We are one of the leading groups in the UK working on improving the postharvest quality of fruit and vegetable crops. We have projects which are investigating factors contributing to quality attributes such as flavour, nutrition, appearance and the sustainable production of a range of herbs, leafy vegetable and fruit species. An example selection of projects includes work on improving the flavour of UK grown herbs and postharvest quality of herbs produced overseas, improving the yield of nutritionally important seed storage proteins, prevention of yellowing (senescence) of green crops, and improvement of flavour and nutritional quality of salad crops. Our funding is from research councils and also held in collaboration with growers, suppliers and plant breeders of these crops for the retail industry. The commitment from industry partners emphasises the consumers' requirement for a great diversity of fresh food which has to be able to tolerate an extended growing season in the UK to minimise food miles, or which can be shipped across the world without losing quality to satisfy demand. Food security and sustainable production are key goals for our group and we address these, and other, issues using a range of molecular genetic, physiological and metabolomic techniques to analyse plant material and to improve both pre and postharvest treatment of different crops. We collaborate with colleagues in the Centre for Horticulture and Landscape, in addition to other groups in the Hugh Sinclair Unit, in order to look at the impact of our plant food selections on models of human digestion and gut health.

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