- Member of the Committee for Research Infrastructure
Areas of interest
My research interests encompass several diverse disciplines within the Agri-food sector. I am interested in genetic, climatic, and quality aspects of horticultural produce, and how this interacts with human nutrition and consumer preferences.
Research centres and groups
My research centres predominantly on crops of the Brassicales family of plants, such as rocket, cabbage, kale, mustard, and radish. These species contain compounds called glucosinolates, which are broken down by an enzyme called myrosinase when we eat them. This releases molecules called isothiocyanates, which often have a pungent, spicy, or sulfurous aroma and flavour. This gives these crops their distinctive sensory attributes, and is a reason why many people do not like to eat them. But isothiocyanates have also been shown to have anti-cancer and anti-neurodegenerative properties, and so I'm interested in improving not only the taste and flavour of Brassicales, but also their health-related benefits for humans. Incidents of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease are increasing, and nutritional improvement of crops is one way of improving people's diets to help alleviate the strain put on health services.
The production of glucosinolates and other metabolites by plants is influenced by both genetic and environmental factors. Another aspect to my research is understanding how gene expression differs in plants grown in different climates. Climate change will likely impact horticultural crop production significantly in the coming decades, and so I conduct experiments relating to carbon dioxide levels, temperature stress, waterlogging, and drought, to see how plants react and cope on a genetic and nutritional level. It is important to understand how these weather events will affect not only yields, but also the nutritional quality of our fruits and vegetables. This will allow for the development of new varieties of crops that can better withstand environmental extremes
BackgroundI spent several years in industry as a plant breeder, and this is a challenging profession that attempts to synthesise all genetic, climatic, and quality aspects for the purposes of crop improvement.
- Signore, A. , Bell, L. ORCID: 0000-0003-2895-2030 , Santamaria, P. , Van Labeke, M. , eds. (2021) Advanced strategies to reduce the nitrate content in vegetables. Frontiers in Plant Science , 12. Frontiers in Plant Science , 12 ISSN: 1664-462X | doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2021.765636
- Bell, L. ORCID: 0000-0003-2895-2030 , Kitsopanou, E. , Oloyede, O. , Lignou, S. ORCID: 0000-0001-6971-2258 (2021) Important odorants of four Brassicaceae species, and discrepancies between glucosinolate profiles and observed hydrolysis products. Foods , 10 (5). ISSN: 2304-8158 | doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.3390/foods10051055
- Hill, D. , Nelson, D. , Hammond, J. ORCID: 0000-0002-6241-3551 , Bell, L. ORCID: 0000-0003-2895-2030 (2021) Morphophysiology of potato (Solanum tuberosum) in response to drought stress: paving the way forward. Frontiers in Plant Science , 11 ISSN: 1664-462X | doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2020.597554
- Bell, L. ORCID: 0000-0003-2895-2030 , Lignou, S. , Wagstaff, C. (2020) High glucosinolate content in rocket leaves (Diplotaxis tenuifolia and Eruca sativa) after multiple harvests is associated with increased bitterness, pungency, and reduced consumer liking. Foods ISSN: 2304-8158 | doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.3390/foods9121799
- Diana Mohd Nor, N. , Lignou, S. , Bell, L. ORCID: 0000-0003-2895-2030 , Houston-Price, C. ORCID: 0000-0001-6368-142X , Harvey, K. , Methven, L. (2020) The relationship between glucosinolates and the sensory characteristics of steamed-pureed turnip (Brassica rapa subsp. rapa). Foods , 9 (11). ISSN: 2304-8158 | doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.3390/foods9111719
- Bell, L. ORCID: 0000-0003-2895-2030 , Chadwick, M. , Puranik, M. , Tudor, R. , Methven, L. , Kennedy, S. , Wagstaff, C. ORCID: 0000-0001-9400-8641 (2020) The Eruca sativa genome and transcriptome: a targeted analysis of sulfur metabolism and glucosinolate biosynthesis pre and postharvest. Frontiers in Plant Science , 11 ISSN: 1664-462X | doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2020.525102
- Signore, A. , Bell, L. , Santamaria, P. , Wagstaff, C. , Van Labeke, M. (2020) Red light is effective in reducing nitrate concentration in rocket by increasing nitrate reductase activity, and contributes to increased total glucosinolates content. Frontiers in Plant Science , 11 ISSN: 1664-462X | doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2020.00604
- Jasper, J. , Wagstaff, C. , Bell, L. (2020) Growth temperature influences postharvest glucosinolate concentrations and hydrolysis product formation in first and second cuts of rocket salad. Postharvest Biology and Technology , 163 pp. 111157. ISSN: 0925-5214 | doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.postharvbio.2020.111157
- Bell, L. , Methven, L. , Wagstaff, C. (2019) Smart breeding for salad rocket: a strategy for improving taste, flavor and nutrition. Acta Horticulturae (1256). pp. 647-652. ISSN: 0567-7572 | doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.17660/ActaHortic.2019.1256.92
- Bell, L. (2019) The biosynthesis of glucosinolates: insights, inconsistencies, and unknowns. Annual Plant Reviews Online 2019. , 2. Wiley pp. 1-31. | doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.1002/9781119312994.apr0708
- Bell, L. and Wagstaff, C. (2019) Rocket science: a review of phytochemical & health-related research in Eruca & Diplotaxis species. Food Chemistry: X , 1 ISSN: 2590-1575 | doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fochx.2018.100002
- Yahya, H. , Lignou, S. , Wagstaff, C. , Bell, L. (2019) Changes in bacterial loads, gas composition, volatile organic compounds, and glucosinolates of fresh bagged Ready-To-Eat rocket under different shelf life treatment scenarios. Postharvest Biology and Technology , 148 pp. 107-119. ISSN: 9255214 | doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.postharvbio.2018.10.021
- Bell, L. and Wagstaff, C. (2017) Enhancement of glucosinolate and isothiocyanate profiles in brassicaceae crops: addressing challenges in breeding for cultivation, storage, and consumer-related traits. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry , 65 (43). pp. 9379-9403. ISSN: 1520-5118 | doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.jafc.7b03628
- Bell, L. , Yahya, H. , Oloyede, O. , Methven, L. , Wagstaff, C. (2017) Changes in rocket salad phytochemicals within the commercial supply chain: glucosinolates, isothiocyanates, amino acids and bacterial load increase significantly after processing. Food Chemistry , 221 pp. 521-534. ISSN: 0308-8146 | doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodchem.2016.11.154
- Bell, L. ORCID: 0000-0003-2895-2030 , Methven, L. , Wagstaff, C. ORCID: 0000-0001-9400-8641 (2017) The influence of phytochemical composition and resulting sensory attributes on preference for salad rocket (Eruca sativa) accessions by consumers of varying TAS2R38 diplotype. Food Chemistry , 222 pp. 6-17. ISSN: 0308-8146 | doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodchem.2016.11.153
- Bell, L. , Methven, L. , Signore, A. , Oruna-Concha, M. , Wagstaff, C. (2017) Analysis of seven salad rocket (Eruca sativa) accessions: the relationships between sensory attributes and volatile and non-volatile compounds. Food Chemistry , 218 pp. 181-191. ISSN: 0308-8146 | doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodchem.2016.09.076
- Bell, L. (2016) Rocket science: phytochemical, postharvest, shelf-life & sensory attributes of rocket species.
- Bell, L. , Spadafora, N. , Mueller, C. , Wagstaff, C. , Rogers, H. (2016) Use of TD-GC-TOF-MS to assess volatile composition during post harvest storage in seven accessions of rocket salad (Eruca sativa). Food Chemistry , 194 pp. 626-636. ISSN: 0308-8146 | doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodchem.2015.08.043
- Bell, L. , Oruna-Concha, M. , Wagstaff, C. (2015) Identification and quantification of glucosinolate and flavonol compounds in rocket salad (Eruca sativa, Eruca vesicaria and Diplotaxis tenuifolia) by LC–MS: highlighting the potential for improving nutritional value of rocket crops. Food Chemistry , 172 pp. 852-861. ISSN: 0308-8146 | doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodchem.2014.09.116
- Bell, L. and Wagstaff, C. (2014) Glucosinolates, myrosinase hydrolysis products, and flavonols found in rocket (Eruca sativa and Diplotaxis tenuifolia). Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry , 62 (20). pp. 4481-4492. ISSN: 0021-8561 | doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.1021/jf501096x