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Sweet Success for AHDB Funded PhD Students

Publication Date: 
18 September 2017

The AHDB Studentship programme

Claudia Carvalho – University of Greenwich

Understanding mechanisms and identifying markers for the onset of senescent sweetening

Claudia is a PhD student from the University of Greenwich where she is currently researching markers for the onset of senescent sweetening and has recently been granted a place on the storage fellowship at the NRI

The overall aim of this study is to understand the mechanism causing the progressive rise in sugars in long term stored processing potatoes known as senescent sweetening.

Claudia explained: “My project will be useful for the industry because it will give a better understanding of the biochemical changes in potatoes during storage and pre-harvest.

“In the short term, optimising/decreasing storage costs and wastage is a key driver for the potato industry. In the longer term, a deeper understanding of the process(es) underlying senescent sweetening will enable strategies to mitigate the problem and by providing markers for breeding schemes”

Award winning poster presentation

In July Claudia attended the fourth International Horticulture Research Conference which was held in East Malling, Kent where she was presented with second place for her study into the effects of senescent sweetening on amyloplasts.

As part of her second year study results, Claudia demonstrated a poster titled: “Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) effects on amyloplast change during storage of potato (Solanum tuberosum).

Changes in amyloplast structure during storage were closely monitored using SEM (scanning electronic microscope). The analysis revealed changes in amyloplast integrity which were related to changes in the ROS activity and increases in the concentration of sucrose, fructose and glucose.

The SEM images showed that amyloplast membranes during storage; turned from a smooth membrane structure at harvest to one with increasing surface fractures as storage progressed.

This was the second time Claudia has won a prize for her work, in 2015 she was presented with second place at the Agrisciences Young Researches 2015: Crop Production, Protection and Utilisation event, with the poster “Senescent Sweetening of Potato”, which outlined her PhD work.

Leisa Douglas, University of Glasgow

Understanding the persistence, transformation and fate of CIPC (Chlorpropham) in commercial potato stores to help guard against cross-contamination.

CIPC is an emerging contaminant in manufactured grain products in the UK and may be attributed to storage in CIPC contaminated buildings. As the persistence of CIPC in the fabric of potato stores is poorly understood, the possible route and extent of this problem remains unclear.

Leisa is a third year PhD student at the University of Glasgow. Her research focuses on: (1) analytical methods to measure CIPC lost to the infrastructure of potato stores, (2) verification of the possible routes of cross contamination of crop commodities housed in buildings previously treated with CIPC and (3) investigating the degradation of CIPC under store conditions allowing appropriate decontamination strategies to be developed.

She has presented her work internationally at the EAPR Post Harvest Section Meeting 2016 and 20th Triennial Conference EAPR 2017 in the Netherlands and France respectively. She was also awarded best poster presentation at the Ninth Scottish Symposium on Environmental Analytical Chemistry in Dundee.

Leisa has presented on analytical methods that were developed for the analysis of CIPC in concrete and the successful application of the methods to determine the distribution of CIPC in commercial potato stores. Her research also verified a possible route of cross contamination for grains that were housed in buildings previously treated with CIPC. Information from her study will allow informed recommendations to be made to farmers about the re-use and/or decontamination of stores.



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