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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

2005 Annual Report

1.What major problem or issue is being resolved and how are you resolving it (summarize project aims and objectives)? How serious is the problem? What does it matter?
Producers of fresh fruit and vegetables face increased production costs and international market competition and must maximize marketability by offering high quality produce that is also high in phytonutrients. An understanding of the types and amounts of antioxidants in small fruits and in other commodities such as watermelon increase the demand and fresh market value of these and other horticultural produce. Market niches are available for some highly perishable crops, such as blackberries and other small fruits, if appropriate germplasm, production, and postharvest technology can be developed and utilized to prolong shelf life. Additionally, successful isolation of antioxidant compounds and manipulation of antioxidant contents in fruits may lead to new markets for value-added products.

The project has three specific goals:.
1)Determine the physiology and develop technology necessary to extend the shelf life, marketability, and phytonutrient content of highly perishable fruits;.
2)Elucidate factors important in altering the phytonutrient content of fruits and vegetables by determining how environment, production, and storage alter phytonutrient content in fruits and vegetables and how molecular biology and conventional breeding can be used to alter and improve quality and carotenoid content of fruit, using watermelon as a model; and.
3)Develop food-grade formulations for extraction and stabilization of aqueous-based lycopene for extended shelf life.

The research to be undertaken falls under National Program 306--Quality and Utilization of Agricultural Products, and addresses goals of Component 1a, b, c, d 'Quality Characterization, Preservation and Enhancement,' and 2b, 'New Processes, New Uses, and Value-added Biobased Products,' as described in the National Program Action Plan. Specifically, these are: 1a) Definition and basis for quality; 1b) Methods to evaluate and predict quality; 1c) Factors and processes that affect quality; 1d) Preservation and/or enhancement of quality and marketing; and 2b) New uses for agricultural byproducts.

The research also falls under National Program Area 301--Plant, Microbial, and Insect Genetic Research, Genomics, and Genetic Improvement, Components 1.1, Genetic Resource Management and 2.1, Genomic Characterization and Genetic Improvement. This project will use established and new methods to characterize and classify genetic material, and apply new biotechnology to support the development of improved germplasm that will lead to genetic resource conservation.

2.List the milestones (indicators of progress) from your Project Plan.
Year 1 (FY 2005) Determine Autumn Olive shelf life, respiration, and ethylene production. Determine effects of UV-C on shelf life of blueberries and blackberries. Evaluate blackberry and blueberry germplasm for storage quality. Explore carotenoid profile of multiple watermelon varieties. Initiate studies on carotenoids in non-red watermelon. Determine the postharvest life and quality of organically produced green bell peppers. Determine environment and germplasm effects (final year) on antioxidant content of raspberry germplasm. Determine effectiveness of soil fertility treatments on watermelon quality. Initiate crosses among low sugar watermelon fruit. Study interaction of lycopene with aqueous detergents and initiate main-effects design study of stabilization of lycopene in water. Initiate central composite design experiments on stable aqueous formulations of lycopene.

Year 2 (FY 2006) Continue studies on Autumn Olive and pursue identification and quantification of phenolic compounds in this fruit. Continue evaluations on blackberry and blueberry storage quality. Determine ripeness effects on carotenoid changes in watermelon. Publish studies on antioxidant content of raspberry germplasm. Develop methodology for quick tests for carotenoids in cucurbits.

Year 3 (FY 2007) Conclude studies on bell peppers and prepare manuscript. Finish studies on production fertility and watermelon quality and prepare report. Transfer technology on antioxidant content of raspberries. Report on the sequenced carotenoid pathway genes in watermelon. Complete central composite design of stable aqueous formulations. Initiate main-effect design studies on dry formulations of lycopene.

Year 4 (FY 2008) Determine primary factors affecting shelf life of blackberries and Autumn Olive. Report on the similarity of watermelon carotenoid pathway to that of tomatoes, and lycopene pathway gene expression in watermelon. Initiate and conduct central composite design for dry formulations of lycopene. Initiate patent or CRADA development for natural lycopene powder.

Year 5 (FY 2009) Finish studies and transfer technology on blackberries, blueberries, and watermelon. Finish studies and transfer technology on carotenoid changes. Release conventional high carotenoid breeding lines and low sugar watermelon lines to seed companies. Publish results of dry formulations for stable, food-grade lycopene if patent application denied.

4a.What was the single most significant accomplishment this past year?
Cucurbit Carotenoids Isolated. Cucurbit carotenoids have been successfully isolated and stabilized. Natural sources of carotenoids are highly desired by the food processing and supplement markets. Most sources of carotenoids are from tomatoes, and are relatively difficult to stabilize. Simple and reliable techniques to stabilize certain carotenoids in cucurbit fruits have been developed by a researcher at South Central Agricultural Research Laboratory, Lane, OK, and are in the process of patent application. Adoption of this technology will lead to development of value added products from cucurbit crops.

4b.List other significant accomplishments, if any.
Fall-Fruiting Blackberries have Good Postharvest Quality. Blackberries normally fruit on second year growth, but fruit buds can be destroyed by winter injury or fungal disease, limiting production in the United States. Primocane-fruiting blackberries fruit on new growth, allowing spring and fall crops, but fruit has to be of acceptable firmness to withstand shipping. In cooperation with the University of Arkansas, researchers at South Central Agricultural Research Laboratory, Lane, OK, evaluated eight primocane fruiting selections for firmness, shelflife and composition. Two selections were found with good shelf life and were sweet in flavor. Documentation of postharvest quality is an important step for commercialization of these selections for the berry industry worldwide.

Ultraviolet Light Reduces Ripe Rot in Blueberries. Highbush blueberries are susceptible to ripe rot (Colletotrichum) during storage, especially in seasons with high rainfall and warm harvest temperatures. Fungicides to prevent this disease are of limited efficacy. Blueberry fruit were treated with short wave ultraviolet light (UVC) at light intensities of 500 to 4000 Joules (J) and stored at 5C for two to four weeks at the South Central Agricultural Research Laboratory, Lane, OK. Application of 1000 to 2000 J UVC light reduced fruit decay from ripe rot by 10 to 20%. These results indicate that UVC light may have use as a postharvest treatment if environmental conditions indicate the likelihood of ripe rot infection.

Low-Sugar Watermelon Liked by Consumers. Watermelon is high in lycopene and Vitamins C and A, and also high in sugars. Individuals interested in limiting sugar/carbohydrate intake avoid eating watermelon or reduce their consumption. Low-sugar watermelon were developed using classical breeding methods at the South Central Agricultural Research Laboratory, Lane, OK, and were then evaluated by consumer panels for flavor and texture. Taste panelists liked the low-sugar watermelon, finding watermelon-like flavor, good texture, and no off flavors such as bitterness. Release of a low-sugar watermelon line will lead to development of a niche market for this fruit.

A Rapid Method for Beta Carotene Content of Cantaloupe Developed. B-carotene is a precursor of vitamin A and provides the orange color of many fruits and vegetables. Plant breeders and consumers want to know the amount of beta carotene, but this is a labor-intensive method that requires hazardous solvents. A simple, inexpensive and rapid method that detects beta-carotene content in cantaloupe without use of organic solvents was developed for growers, breeders, and scientists interested in carotene content by researchers at the South Central Agricultural Research Laboratory, Lane, OK. This technology gives the cantaloupe industry a simple method that will lead to replacement of visual ratings for orange color/carotenoid content with more reliable beta carotene data.

4c.List any significant activities that support special target populations.
Small acreage growers learn about horticultural developments. Scientists fully participated in extension tours, field days, and agricultural conferences where technology was transferred to primarily small acreage growers. Scientists actively interact with local organic growers to help with marketing and production issues in fruit and vegetable production. Results and application of research projects have also been presented to growers, scientists, extension, and industry personnel during visits to the South Central Agricultural Research Laboratory, at grower meetings, and at scientific meetings.

Women learn about their importance in horticultural research. Scientists and support staff developed a display and interacted with the Oklahoma Women in Agriculture program to exchange information on the career opportunities for women in horticulture and agriculture.

5.Describe the major accomplishments over the life of the project, including their predicted or actual impact.
Watermelon lycopene content exceeds that of tomato fruit. Consumers want food sources of lycopene, a pigment that has anticancer properties and cardiovascular benefits. While tomatoes and tomato products provide most of dietary lycopene, analysis of samples from 80 red fleshed watermelon varieties indicates that this fruit contains more lycopene than tomatoes. This research was used by a commodity board to gain an approved statement for marketing, and lead to increased watermelon consumption in the United States.

Accomplishments made under this project are consistent with relevant milestones listed in the Project Plan, and with research components relevant to National Programs 301 and 306 Action Plans. Accomplishments under this project contribute to the ARS Strategic Plan Goal 1.2, Performance Measure 1.1.2, in that the project accomplishments contribute substantially to attainment of the Agency FY 2007 target of providing consumers with convenient, highly acceptable, healthy foods.

6.What science and/or technologies have been transferred and to whom? When is the science and/or technology likely to become available to the end-user (industry, farmer, other scientists)? What are the constraints, if known, to the adoption and durability of the technology products?
Provided under 'Material Transfer Agreement,' an experimental sample of watermelon lycopene paste was provided to a commercial company that makes dietary supplements. Patent applications will be submitted if warranted.

A rapid RNA isolation technique for watermelon flesh was developed at South Central Agricultural Research Laboratory to help other ARS and University scientists develop a fruit-specific cDNA library.

South Central Agricultural Research Laboratory researchers provided information to grower groups and consumers about the phytonutrient benefits of watermelon and small fruits in presentations to grower groups and to numerous email requests by consumers.

College students learn about agriculture. Student interns from USDA-supported and grant-supported projects work at the South Central Agricultural Research Laboratory on specific scientific projects in cucurbits. Their experiences are transferred to the public as technical presentations at state meetings and as reports for college credit to their respective departments.

7.List your most important publications in the popular press and presentations to organizations and articles written about your work. (NOTE: List your peer reviewed publications below).
Boyd, V. (editor). 2005. Mini-melons pack big nutritional punch. The Grower. March, 2005. p. 38-39.

Davis, A.R., O'Reilly, R.G. Jr. 2005. Caribbean Coralfruit. The Cucurbit Network News. 12:1-2.

Delicious, low-sugar watermelons? Yes! February 22, 2005.

Kuack, D. (editor). 2005. Scientists work to create low-sugar watermelons. Greenhouse Management and Production. July, 2005. p. 14.

Low-Sugar Watermelon. 2005. Newsletter of the Contra Costa Master Gardeners. January, 2005.

Maynard, D.N., Perkins Veazie, P.M. 2004. Triploid miniwatermelon cultigen evaluation, Spring 2004. University of Florida Extension Publication. Available:

Perkins Veazie, P.M., Clark, J.R. 2005. Blackberry research in Arkansas and Oklahoma. BRAMBLE: Newsletter of the North American Bramble Growers Association, Summer 2005. p. 9.

Perkins Veazie, P.M. 2004. Marketing for health: Human wellness compounds in fruits and vegetables. 24th Annual Missouri Small Fruits and Vegetables Conference. p. 1-5.

Pons, L. 2004. A new world of watermelon. Agricultural Research Magazine. December, 2004. p. 10-11.

Pons, L. 2005. Oklahoma studies yield low sugar watermelons. The Farmer-Stockman. January-February, 2005. p. 18.

Scientists work to create low-sugar watermelons. July, 2005. Greenhouse Management and Production.

Studies Yield Low-Sugar Watermelons, Probe 'Minis' Nutrition. 2005. Melon Industry News.

Studies yield low-sugar watermelons, probe 'minis' nutrition

Studies yield low-sugar watermelons, probe nutrition of mini varieties. SeedQuest News section.

USA: Researchers develop low-sugar watermelon. December 09, 2004. Source:

Review Publications
Clark, J.R., Moore, J.N., Lopez-Medina, J., Finn, C.E., Perkins Veazie, P.M. 2005. 'Prime-Jan'TM ('APF-8) and 'Prime-Jim'TM ('APF-12') primocane-fruiting blackberries. Hortscience. 40(3):852-855.

Davis, A.R., Perkins Veazie, P.M., Collins, J.K., Roberts, W. 2004. Low sugar watermelon for the diabetic consumer [abstract]. HortScience. 39(3):654.

Levi, A., Thomas, C.E., Xu, Y., Reddy, O., Davis, A.R. 2005. Genetic linkage map for watermelon: Segregation and distribution of aflp markers. Plant and Animal Genome Conference Proceedings XIII. pg 32.

Rimando, A.M., Perkins Veazie, P.M. 2005. Determination of citrulline in watermelon rind. Journal of Chromatography A. 1078:196-200.

Tadmor, Y., Katzir, N., King, S., Levi, A., Davis, A.R., Hirschberg, J. 2004. Fruit coloration in watermelon - lessons from the tomato. Progress in Cucurbit Genetics and Breeding Research. A. Lebeda and H.S. Paris (Eds.). p. 181-185.

Tadmor, Y., King, S., Levi, A., Davis, A.R., Hirschberg, J. 2004. Comparative fruit coloration in watermelon and tomato. Meeting Abstract. 3rd International Congress on Pigments in Food, L. Dufosse (ed.) (France). pg 400-402.

Roberts, B.W., Perkins Veazie, P.M., Edelson, J.V., Shrefler, J.W., Brandenberger, L.P. 2005. Watermelon cultivar evaluations [abstract]. HortScience. 40(3):872.

Perkins Veazie, P.M., Black, B.L., Fordham, I.M., Howard, L.R. 2005. Lycopene and total phenol content of autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata) selections [abstract]. HortScience. 40(30):883.

Perkins Veazie, P.M., Clark, J.R. 2005. Evaluating a simple system for blackberry shelf life [abstract]. HortScience. 40(30):894.

Collins, J.K., Davis, A.R., Perkins Veazie, P.M., Adams, E. 2005. Sensory evaluation of low sugar watermelon by consumers [abstract]. HortScience. 40(30):883.

Takeda, F., Lester, G.E., Chandler, C., Perkins Veazie, P.M., Prior, R.L. 2005. Phytonutrient evaluation of strawberries from field and greenhouse production environments. Hortscience. Vol 40(3): 879. 2005.

Levi, A., Thomas, C.E., Davis, A.R., Reddy, O., Xu, Y., Zhang, X., King, S., Hernandez, A., Gusmini, G., Wehner, T. 2005. Developing genetic linkage map and cdna subtraction library for watermelon [Abstract]. HortScience. 40:1089.

Levi, A., Thomas, C.E., Thies, J.A., Simmons, A.M., Xu, Y., Zhang, X., Reddy, O.K., Davis, A.R., King, S., Wehner, T. 2004. Composite genetic linkage map for watermelon: segregation and distribution of dna markers. Progress in Cucurbit Genetics and Breeding Research. A. Lebeda and H.S. Paris (eds.) pp. 515-524.

Stringer, S.J., Perkins Veazie, P.M., Marshall, D.A. 2005. Natraceutical profile of selected muscadine (vitis rotundifolia michx.) cultivars and breeding lines. Hortscience 40:1068.

Clark, J.R., Moore, J.N., Perkins Veazie, P.M. 2005. 'White Rock' and 'White County' fresh-market peaches [abstract]. HortScience. 40(3):891.

Last Modified: 4/17/2014
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