A major stress in a carrot's life – like the slash of a kitchen knife – and the tapered tuber kicks in the juice and pumps up its phytochemicals.
That's the finding of Dr. Luis Cisneros, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station food scientist. He calls it abiotic stress – pushing the button, so to speak, on a crop after it has been harvested.
"What happens is that on many occasions, plants do not express their real potential. They can actually express more if they are challenged to a point," he said.
"It's something similar to what would happen with people. You stress people, and people tend to respond more to the challenges in front of them," he added. "In this case, when you stress plants, you actually trigger this genetic response, and the plant will synthesize chemical compounds. You end up with a carrot that is healthier than the original carrot in a short period of time with a very cheap and easy stressor."
A key to his research was understanding the plant's pathway to a specific, desired compound and getting it to increase only that one. So far, his lab has successfully increased the amount of antioxidant activity in carrots up to five times.
The finding is important for food processors, Cisneros said, because as companies increasingly seek ways to add healthier components to foods, the technique could yield more of those desired substances.
One kilogram of anthocyanin extract is valued at $1,000 in the marketplace, Cisneros said. Anthocyanin is the red pigment in vegetables which is associated with a reduced risk of cancer and heart disease.
"So, if you stress (carrots) and they accumulate more anthocyanin, that means more money," he said. "Now imagine using that carrot to make a juice or making an extract of it that could be added to bread or some other product. You end up with an array of different products that you can benefit from."
Growers also stand to gain, he said. In traditional vegetable marketing, the only way for a producer to make more money is to harvest higher yields.
"But with this process, a grower could market not for the yield in tonnage, but for the percent of phytochemicals," he explained.
Other current research on producing phytochemicals in foods focuses on breeding fruits and vegetables to have increased amounts of the compounds, Cisneros noted. While that is beneficial, the ability to quadruple the phytochemical with a simple, post-harvest technique would add even more value.
In his lab, the "wounded," or cut, carrots were placed under an ultraviolet light for a few seconds. Analysis a couple of days after that simple treatment showed a "huge increase" in antioxidants, he said.
"Abiotic stress has been known for decades," he said. "But our work is new because we targeted something specific to accumulate what we wanted. We used stress to manipulate."
The finding opens the door for more research, he said.
"We are trying to see if these responses can be duplicated in other types of plants – different types of fruits and vegetables," he said. "We want to see the signal molecule that is promoting these types of responses to maybe improve the way we are applying these stresses."
Kathleen Phillips | EurekAlert!
Forest Management Yields Higher Productivity through Biodiversity
14.10.2016 | Technische Universität München
Farming with forests
23.09.2016 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES)
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences