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Projects

Fruit Science/ PostHarvest Group have a number of ongoing projects, as well as funded and a big number of accomplished projects.

Principal Investigator (PI)

Project title: Postharvest performance, phytochemical profile and antioxidant potency of indigenous (Malus x domestica) apple cultivars
Duration: 1/5/12-30/10/13
Funding Agent: Research Promotion Foundation of Cyprus

The general objectives of this project aimed at the evaluation of quality attributes, phytochemical profile, antioxidant potency and overall postharvest performance of indigenous/traditional apple cultivars, grown in Cyprus, namely ‘Kathista’ and ‘Lortiko’, using ‘Gala’ as reference cultivar. Such traditional cultivars are highly appreciated by the consumers, yet their postharvest performance and phytochemical content were largely unknown. Total phenolic content was dependent on cultivar and length of cold storage, while hydroxycinnamic acids were always at higher levels compared to total flavonols. Quality attributes and polyphenolic content of the traditional apple cultivars were comparable with ‘Gala’ at harvest; thus they can be considered a good source of nutraceuticals as summer apple cultivars. However, extended cold storage deteriorated fruit performance and antioxidant capacity, particularly in ‘Lortiko’ fruit. To this extent, a database for qualitative attributes, nutritional value and antioxidant potential of these cultivars was built. This work resulted in one publication in refereed journal, while a significant number of dissemination activities were carried out, including the development of a website (www.cut.ac.cy/apple) and a well-attended seminar.


Project title: Postharvest physiology & technology of fruit crops
Duration: 1/1/10-28/2/2012
Funding Agent: Cyprus University of Technology (Start up grant)

The main aim of such internal (CUT) grants is to assist new academic staff to establish their own research program. This grant was particularly important for initiating my research activity at CUT in a way it allowed me to recruit an experienced post-doctoral research associate and to cover the travel cost and cost of living of a professor from Argentina, who spent one month working in our CUT facilities. These cooperations have led to the establishment of a number of experimental protocols that have already been applied in research projects, and the research findings (exclusively carried out at CUT) have been disseminated in the form of three publications in refereed journals. Overall, this grant was particularly important to strengthen the interdisciplinary research with academic groups from other countries, as well as to explore the innovation potential of new approaches undertaken in the area of Postharvest Physiology and Technology of fruit crops. Research findings of this project have been disseminated in the form of 7 publications in refereed journals.


Partner

Project title: ‘Ozone application for improving postharvest handling of edible horticultural products’
Call: Thalis – Enhancing Interdisciplinary research and innovation potential to attract high level researchers from abroad by applied research excellence
Role: Distinguished Research associate from abroad
Duration: 36 months (starting day: 09/01/2011)
Funding Agent: Ministry of Education in Greece

The objective of this project was to develop a set of postharvest ozone treatments in order to control horticultural products’ quality attributes, in terms of pathogen susceptibility, chemical residues and antioxidant-related compounds. In addition, this work aimed to provide insights into the ozone’s mode of action by analysing gene and protein expression changes in response to ozone treatments. The main outputs of the project was: (1) the development of specific ozone treatments/technology in the horticultural industry for effective fruit preservation, (2) the improvement in the quality and safety of fresh fruits and vegetables, and (3) the molecular view of the underlying mechanisms involved in ozone’s postharvest action. My involvement in the project resulted in two publications in refereed journals, dealing with the efficacy of ozone in kiwifruit postharvest performance.


Project title: The effect of maturity stage and postharvest storage treatments on quality attributes and phytochemical profile of peach fruit: a physicochemical, biochemical and transcriptomic approach
Call: Archimedes III-Strengthening research groups in Technological Educational Institutes
Role: Distinguished Research associate from abroad
Duration: 36 months (starting day: 01/06/12)
Funding Agent: Ministry of Education in Greece

Considering the economic importance of peach, and also the fact that around 70 new peach cultivars are launched on a yearly basis worldwide, the selection of the most appropriate peach cultivars is of prime importance. Initially, the most widely grown and new introduced peach cultivars was evaluated for their quality attributes and phytochemical properties at harvest and during maintenance at room temperature. Based on these data, a set of 4 cultivars with diverse phytochemical profiles were further evaluated for their postharvest performance and antioxidant profiles after short or prolonged cold storage. In addition, a large scale transcriptomic analysis for a given cultivar and specific storage treatments was carried out. Throughout this approach we identified genes differentially regulated during various storage treatments and to correlate them with quality traits, most promptly those that govern the antioxidant properties and the overall phytochemical profile of peach fruit. This work resulted in two publications in refereed journals and defense of three oral presentations in International Conferences.


Project title: Revamping organic farming and its products in the context of climate change mitigation strategies (ORGANIKO)
Call: LIFE14 CCM/CY/000990
Duration: 010915-310819

A demonstration project called “ORGANIKO LIFE+” was envisioned to provide the field-based evidence that promote Organic Farming (OF) and its products as an important means of mitigating and adapting to climate change in Cyprus; the Italian partner (KC) will provide to the Cypriot team their long-standing experience in LIFE+ climate mitigation projects in Italy and the demands and challenges of the field at the European Commission level. Cyprus is a low-performing country in the organic sector. Among the main objectives of the project were to: (1) develop a strategic national plan of mitigating climate change in agriculture and demonstrate the comparative performance of organic production using a series of climate mitigation indicators in the field, (2) demonstrate comparative advantages of selected organic products in decreasing the body burden of organophosphate pesticides in children, (3) tailor organic farming protocols of major importance for Cyprus agriculture to the local farm(er) characteristics and (4) evaluate the current situation in Cyprus (before and during project implementation) regarding technical stakeholders’ bottlenecks and consumer perceptions. My involvement dealt with the determination of qualitative properties of organically-grown apples compared to conventional ones, as well as the efficient transfer of the results.


Project title: Το promote and enable the long-term conservation of High Nature Value Farmland in Cyprus’
Call: LIFE 13 BIO/CY/001114
Duration: 010915-310819

The project implements conservation and demonstration actions that highlights the importance of two historical High Nature Value Farmlands (HNVFs) in Cyprus: the traditional vineyard agroecosystem and the carob agrosilvopastoral system. Among main project objectives is to support and promote sustainable agricultural practices that enhance ecosystem services and conserve biodiversity in HNVF, identify strengths and weaknesses of current agricultural management practices with respect to biodiversity conservation, build a knowledge base for vineyard and carob grove HNVF, in Cyprus and encourage stakeholder involvement and increase public awareness regarding HNVF issues through active participatory learning. My contribution involved the defence of two oral presentations about current trends in carob cultivation (extension events); I have also acted as co-author in a manual (72 pages) regarding sustainable agriculture practices in carob groves.


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