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

Development of innovative priming technologies safeguarding yield security in soft fruit crops through a cutting-edge technological approach

Programme: Horizon Europe
Funding Agent: European Commission
Partners: Katholieke University of Leuven, University of Potsdam. CSIC, National Technical University of Athens

The development of non-toxic priming agents (PAs) is an important R&D activity, driven by European Commission (EC) policy. PRIMESOFT´s overarching objective is to explore innovations in the application of PAs in value-added soft fruit crops from a range of perspectives and strengthen educational, research and innovation activities among the Widening Institution (WI) and 4 internationally-renowned AdvancedPartners (APs). Through this multi-actor approach, we aim to bridge the gap between chemical and nanomaterial priming research and agricultural practice in order to bring the inventions closer to application and commercialization towards resource-efficient smart farming practices. Besides the novelty of its technological approach that will be validated by sophisticated Life cycle cost analysis, PRIMESOFT´s ambition is to use computational analysis and mechanistic modelling to identify key components that regulate the mode of action of PAs through the employment of transcriptomic and metabolomic approaches. The WI is expected to receive pioneering education, research and technological capacity by a polymorphic Consortium that share highly complementary skills and the nature of their activities creates added value. Outreach activities are expected to create significant scientific, societal and economic impacts and are particularly dedicated to 8 researchers of the WI in order to acquire the necessary competencies to seek a position of professional maturity. Specifically, PRIMESOFT has planned 2 thematic workshops, 4 training schools with hands-on practice in state-of-the-art methodologies, and an international scientific conference. PRIMESOFT aspires to enhance strategic networking activities of WI with both APs and stakeholders of the agro/food sector during and beyond the end of the project. To this aim, a business plan towards the development of a Regional Center of Excellence in Plant Sciences will be developed.

Sustainable optimization of the value chain of added-value fresh and dried berries through the integration of Precision Agriculture management strategies and innovative dehydration and edible coating

Programme: Horizon 2020
Pillar: MSCA-RISE-2020 - Research and Innovation Staff Exchange
Funding Agent: European Commission
Partners: Universities & private entities from five European countries (Cyprus, Greece, United Kingdom. Romania, Malta)

Maintaining a healthy diet requires sufficient consumption of fruits and vegetables. However, nowadays, the fast pace of modern lifestyle discourages individuals from reaching their optimal daily intake via consumption of fresh fruits/vegetables, ultimately creating an increasing demand for natural, nutritive, healthy and personalized ready-to-eat snacks. It is also an accepted actuality that there is a lack of healthy food snacks for personalized nutrition in the market. Hence, the development of such products, which can also be tailor-made to the needs of specific groups (young children, elderly, diabetic, sportive etc.), is a long-awaiting innovation. FRIETS project aims in training crossdisciplinary scientists from 5 European countries, in collaboration with international SMEs, for the development and marketization of personalized, nutritious and innovative, soft fruit smart snacks that contain no added sugar, sodium or chemical preservatives, as a palatable way to increase daily fruit consumption. FRIETS smart snacks will include novel processed berries (strawberry, raspberry and blackberry) with superior quality and nutritional characteristics, as well as extended shelf-life. Pre-harvest management practices will be optimized for cultivating high-quality berries. Low impact post-harvest technologies will be developed and optimised including (1) mild and energy efficient drying techniques (e.g. osmotic dehydration, freeze drying, microwave vacuum drying or their combination) using limited or no sugar or salt, and low temperatures, (2) composite or multi-layered edible coatings, based on micro- and macro-algae components, including encapsulated or non-encapsulated natural functional ingredients. Life Cycle Analysis and socio-techno-economic analysis will be implemented for the sustainable development of new products. FRIETS implementation will be based on staff secondments, strengthening collaborative research among different countries and sectors.

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.

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