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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: A Diagnostic Toolbox for Management of Apple Postharvest Necrotic Disorders

Location: Plant, Soil and Nutrition Research

2011 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
Fruit tree stakeholders have identified the need for effective, consistent control measures for apple postharvest physiological disorders and the development of additional control and management tools to replace or amend existing programs. Metabolic and genetic biomarker-based tools that are cost-effective will be developed under this project to predict, diagnose, and distinguish postharvest necrotic disorders to assure that high quality, disorder-free product remain available across the supply chain. Implementation of biomarker-based diagnostic tools represents a pragmatic, technology-driven shift from the treatment-based apple storage of the present to more economically feasible, sustainable, management-based systems, similar to those effectively applied in orchard systems such as integrated pest management.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Our scientific approach applies metabolic and gene expression profiling to discover biomarkers that can be used to predict, diagnose, and distinguish economically significant apple postharvest physiological disorders. We will use this information to develop prototype predictive and diagnostic storage management tools and to re-evaluate prior understanding of disease classification based on distinguishing biomarkers. To demonstrate the economic feasibility of biomarker-based disorder management, the costs and benefits of biomarker-based tools will be compared with treatment-based tools alone or in combination. Long-term net benefits of each system will be simulated under various regional and policy environments to provide a range of plausible economic outcomes for stakeholders across the supply chain.


3.Progress Report

This project is part of a broader multi-institutional effort directed toward eventual development of diagnostic tools for predicting apple fruit storage disorders negatively impacting fruit appearance or quality so that decisions can be made regarding optimal use of specific apple storage lots. For example, apple storage lots showing markers for late term apple fruit disorders might be targeted for early fresh use or sent to the processing stream if stored for a longer period so as to recover maximal product benefit. Specific activities under this project component include testing of candidate gene expression patterns that may serve as early warning markers for various storage regimes and pre-storage treatments that might impact later development of fruit storage disorders. In the current year we have taken preliminary whole genome profile data developed under another component of this project and identified a number of candidates for disorder marker use. These genes were then used to develop gene-specific probes for confirmation experiments designed to test their utility. We have learned that additional expression data from earlier times in treatment regimes is required to develop optimal markers and have modified project plans accordingly. As the objective of this initial part of the project was to assess strategies, this project is in all respects on schedule and on budget. We collaborate with researchers on the Cornell campus and with the USDA-ARS in Washington State who provide fruit tissues and perform storage treatments. One project meeting and multiple electronic meetings were held over the course of the year to insure project activities started asp planned and remained on track, problems were addressed and all project participants were current on activities occurring in cooperating laboratories. Project participants including project leaders and key technicians, postdocs and graduate students involved in the project meet quarterly via conference calls. Regular meetings between the leaders of the Ithaca, Cornell and Washington project leaders, phone conversations and email are used on a frequent basis as needed to address questions, technical problems, or to plan next steps when milestones are reached.


Last Modified: 10/1/2014
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