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Oxygen sensing and fruit quality : a new COST project

Oxygen sensing and fruit quality : a new COST project
Julien Pirrello, associate professor of the GBF unit (UMR Toulouse-INP / INRA) is the coordinator for a European COST program bringing together participants from 23 countries. The kick-off meeting took place on October 2, 2019, for a project duration of 4 years.

The aim of the European COST program - for European Cooperation in Science and Technology - is to promote links between researchers from European countries and the promotion of young scientists. The program runs over 4 years, with 2 to 4 meetings per year, the research theme addressed must be of general interest and bring together researchers from at least 7 European countries.

Funding networking tools

The networking of the researchers is done via 5 privileged tools: annual meetings, workshops organized by the different working groups, thematic training schools, short-term scientific missions and ITC grant grants (for inclusivness target country grants – country for which the COST objective is to enhance integration in the EU research)

Why do we need research on fruit ripening?

Beneficial for the health, the consumption of fruits and vegetables is at the heart of the current stakes of the food. Any strategy to increase fruit consumption must necessarily considered the taste and smell of these products, because the quality of the fruit is judged by the consumer not at the time of harvest, but after a post-harvest period that can be long because of the complexity of the distribution channels.

The fruits continue to evolve during their shelf life after harvest, resulting in substantial deterioration. Post-harvest losses account for 30% of total fruit and vegetable production in Europe. As a result, control of the ripening process helps to maintain high nutritional and sensory values ​​and reduce post-harvest losses.

A recent article opens new avenues

Post-harvest fruit management is based on a controlled or modified atmosphere and on the packaging. Fruit ripening is characterized by an increase in the production of ethylene but also an increase in respiration. These two phenomena have been observed, but while the role of ethylene in the control of ripening was well described, the role of the respiration increase remains to be explored. The recent discovery that factors controling  the detection of low oxygen content and oxidative stress are involved in maturation opens new avenues for fruit quality control through innovative breeding strategies and new dedicated technologies.

This is the importance of this COST project, said Julien Pirrello: “By bringing together researchers from different disciplines (“fruit ripening” community working on ethylene, community “hypoxia and breathing” rather working notably on waterlogging stress in rice or Arabidopsis model, “post-harvest maturation” community), this action should lead to major advances in the understanding of fruit physiology, offering new targets for controlling fruit quality and shelf life after harvest.”

MeetingLancementOctobre2019_CROPPED

Participants in the launch meeting of October 2, 2019