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

Valorization of the reference indigenous grape cultivar ‘Xynisteri’ under variable vineyard conditions through sensorial analyses and aromatic characterization

Programme: Didaktor (Post-Doctoral Researchers)
Pillar: Sustainable growth
Funding Agent: Foundation of Research and Innovation
Partners: Vassilikon Oinopieio Kyperounda (HO), University of Pisa, University of Tuscia, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Cyprus is one of the very few phyloxera-free areas of the world that cultivates vines in their own roots. Almost ¾ of the total cultivated area uses indigenous cultivars, mainly 'Mavro' and 'Xynisteri' cultivars. The latter is considered as a reference cultivar, used for the production of white wines (light-yellow in colour, balanced, with moderate alcohol and a delicate floral taste), as well as for the production of ‘Commandaria’, a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) premium dessert wine. Notably, ‘Xynisteri’ is suitable for extreme weather conditions such as drought and hot climate, thus rendering it is an ideal cultivar for marginal soils and adverse climatic conditions. ‘Xynisteri’ is characterized as a very vigorous cultivar, well-adapted in non-irrigated soils and at high altitudes. Under such conditions, wines with distinct aromatic character can be produced, including additionally the potential of aging. Although ‘Xynisteri’ cultivation is of immense significance for the local economy and many wineries cultivate it, it is poorly characterized. Vasiliko Oinopoieio Kyperoundas is a leading company in the field of viticulture and oenology, located in the mountainous area of Cyprus (1200 m) and ‘Xynisteri’ accounts for 50% of its total wine production. The aim of the current project is to valorize the potential of ‘Xynisteri’ under variable vineyard practices through the determination of quality attributes and oenological properties. Special attention will be devoted in the aromatic characterization of ‘Xynisteri’ grapes by means of sensory evaluation and volatile analysis through GC-MS and Electronic nose. At the level of basic research, RNA sequencing for determining expression profiles of genes involved in aroma biosynthetic pathways will be carried out.  Towards the implementation of the aforementioned goals, four Research Units from Academia with highly complementary expertise (vineyard management, determination of qualitative and sensorial attributes, gene expression analyses) will be involved. The expected results of the project will contribute towards the improvement of the quality of the ‘Xynisteri’ wine and release into the market of new added-value products.

Application of agricultural biostimulants as a novel sustainable practice to enhance production volumes and qualitative attributes of raspberry fruit

Programme: Proof of Concept for Technology/knowhow applications
Pillar: Smart growth
Funding Agent: Foundation of Research and Innovation
Partners: Mountain Berries Pitsilia N.V.

Cultivation of soft fruits like strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries is receiving accumulating interest and an exponential worldwide demand over the last years, mainly due to their proven health-promoting properties. The latter are considered as added value products but its cultivation in Cyprus is restricted to few hectares, mainly due to lack of the necessary expertise. The aim of the current project is to test the efficacy of agricultural biostimulants (ABs) and its potential to be commercially applied in a sustainable production system, such as Integrated Crop Management (IPM) or an Organic Certified Program, for the production of added value raspberry fruits. These compounds, also mentioned as priming agents (PAs) are generally recognized as safe since they do not leave any harmful residues on fruits and are abundant in natural environments. Furthermore, they have been shown to trigger crop protection mechanisms, against biotic and abiotic stress factors in an array of agricultural commodities. However, there is a lack of scientific evidence regarding their efficacy in raspberry plants. The current project is tightly aligned the 2014-2020 Smart Specialisation Strategy for Cyprus (S3Cy) that identified the agricultural sector as a priority area with high but unexplored potentials. The expected outcomes will be for the benefit of the competitiveness of the Host Organization. The main deliverable of this project will include the development of a publicly accessible recommended management production protocol to enhance production volumes of raspberry plants. Through this approach, our ultimate goal is to disseminate the new knowledge to farmers and agronomists who wish acquire expertise in soft fruit production systems in order to develop a critical mass at National level and address the accumulating needs of the local consumers that are currently fulfilled through imports. The current project is scientifically supported by CUT Fruit Sciences/Postharvest Group and CUT Plant Stress Physiology Group.

The physiological disorder of purple spot in loquat fruit: a physiological, technological and molecular approach

PhD project (Margarita Hadjipieri),
Collaborators: V. Fotopoulos, F. Tomas- Barberan, F, Costa

Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica Lindl) market potential is severely affected by purple spot, a pre-harvest physiological disorder, evident as skin discoloration with depressed purple surface. Despite its economic impact, this phenomenon is still poorly investigated and, to our knowledge, this is the first attempt to investigate the molecular mechanism underlying such symptoms. The intensity and severity of purple spot in three loquat cultivars (‘Morphitiki’, ‘Karantoki’ and ‘Obusa’), showing different susceptibility to the disorder, was initially monitored over a period of four months. At commercial maturity stage, harvested fruit were grouped into five distinct categories based on the severity incidence of purple spot. ‘Obusa’ fruits showed the highest incidence of affected fruit, while those harvested from ‘Morphitiki’ did not show any purple spot symptoms. Total soluble sugars, sucrose, glucose and fructose content were measured and key genes implicated in the sucrose pathway [such as (cell wall, cytoplasmic and vascular invertases), sucrose synthase and sucrose phosphate synthase] and in the chlorogenic pathway and oxidation process (such as polyphenol oxidase, phenylalanine ammonia lyase, p-coumarate 3-hydroxylase) were identified.

The intensity and severity of purple spot in three loquat cultivars (‘Morphitiki’, ‘Karantoki’ and ‘Obusa’) during successive on tree developmental stages.

Assessing the sensorial attributes and phytochemical properties of clingstone peach cultivars: the effect of processing on bioactive composition

PhD project (Marina Christofi),
Collaborators: C. Biliaderis, S. Haroutounian, A. Lazaridou, P. Zoumpoulakis

Peach (Prunus persica) is considered as a classic fruit for the consumer either as fresh or as processed. Having significant impact on human nutrition, peach is the second most important temperate fruit crop worldwide in terms of production volumes. Peach canning is one of the most popular of all processed fruit, with Greece being the leading country in clingstone peach production and exports of canned peaches at international level. Notably and despite its economic importance, information on bioactive profile analysis of widely grown cultivars and changes induced after canning process is very limited. Thus, in the current project, bioactive compounds including carotenoids and phenolic compounds will be determined in fresh and canned tissue; aiming at the evaluation of the impact level of processing on the composition of bioactive compounds in peach fruit, with special reference to carotenoid content. Towards this aim, peach fruit of eight commercially important clingstone cultivars were harvested according to their maturity stage and size with scalar ripening (spanning from beginning of July to mid of September), and were subsequently processed. Current result indicate great differences among cultivars, highlighting the genotype effect. We have further developed a novel protocol to precisely determine textural properties of canned fruits jointly with Prof. Athina Lazaridou (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki).

Kramer Shear test simulates a consumer single bite on foodstuffs and provides information about bite characteristic, crispiness and firmness. We have further employed a Texture Profile Analysis (TPA) that allow us with a single measurement to determine six mechanical parameters:Hardness, Fracturability, Consistency, Cohesiveness, Springiness, Chewiness.

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