Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Lettuce rejoice! Scientists grow longer lasting salad

Date:
April 10, 2014
Source:
University of Southampton
Summary:
A new study reviewed the science behind keeping salad leaves fresh for longer. Their results are now being used in breeding programs to produce salads with a longer shelf life. Before they reach our supermarkets, baby salad leaves undergo rigorous processing that includes harvesting, transportation, washing, sanitization, removal of excess water, and packaging. Currently, only the most robust leaves can survive this process without being bruised and damaged.

Researchers at the University of Southampton have helped to produce salads with a longer shelf-life.

They worked with Vitacress, one of the biggest producers of packaged salads, to understand what keeps salad leaves fresh for longer. Their results are now being used in breeding programs and within Vitacress' own practises to produce salads with a longer shelf life.

Before they reach our supermarkets, baby salad leaves undergo rigorous processing that includes harvesting, transportation, washing, sanitization, removal of excess water, and packaging. Only the most robust leaves can survive this process without being bruised and damaged. This makes growing salad crops with 'processable' leaves extremely important for the packaged salad industry, as it reduces waste and increases shelf life.

Lead researcher on the project Professor Gail Taylor from the University of Southampton says: "Developing high quality, nutritious, sustainable salad leaves is really important for Vitacress; it's a key part of their business. They need science to achieve that, and the science we've done has plugged directly into the business."

Professor Taylor and colleagues, together with Vitacress, used funding from an Industrial Partnership Award (IPA) from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) to work out the genetics of processable salad leaves so that this information could be used by industry in salad crop breeding programs. First, they identified what it was about certain salad leaves that gave them a longer shelf life. They found that smaller, tougher leaves, with lots of small cells packed closely together, lasted longer. They then worked out which regions of the lettuce genome were responsible for these desirable characteristics.

As a result of this research, the scientists have initiated a breeding programme in which crop breeders are selectively breeding plants with the genetic material responsible for leaves with a longer shelf-life. In the course of the project, the researchers also made the unexpected discovery that using less water when growing salad improves its shelf-life, which has added environmental benefits.

"We were able to show that if you reduce water use in intensive salad production by about 20 percent, you actually develop smaller, tougher leaves with stiff cells walls, which is what we're interested in," says Professor Taylor, "and at the same time, the company can reduce their water footprint."

"So we've used fundamental biological knowledge and applied it both through the genetic route and through crop production techniques to help the company improve the quality of their product," she adds.

Dr Steve Rothwell from Vitacress says: "The results open the door to exciting further studies across a wider range of crops and geographies aimed at driving down the use of water whilst improving crop quality and shelf life."

Following the success of their IPA project, the partnership between the researchers and Vitacress has grown to include a seed company in the USA, who are using the results of the project in their breeding programs, and Sainsbury's, who sell many of Vitacress' products. Sainsbury's and the seed company have jointly funded two of Professor Taylor's PhD students.

"We now have a partnership which takes in the whole chain," says Professor Taylor. "We deal with the breeder in the USA, so we can supply our ideas to them directly, then Vitacress grow the crops which they supply to Sainsbury's. That sort of partnership is quite difficult for an academic group to achieve, and it is through our work with Vitacress that we have developed these links."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Southampton. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Southampton. "Lettuce rejoice! Scientists grow longer lasting salad." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140410083347.htm>.
University of Southampton. (2014, April 10). Lettuce rejoice! Scientists grow longer lasting salad. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140410083347.htm
University of Southampton. "Lettuce rejoice! Scientists grow longer lasting salad." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140410083347.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

AP (July 22, 2014) An 80-year-old agave plant, which is blooming for the first and only time at a University of Michigan conservatory, will die when it's done (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

Reuters - US Online Video (July 21, 2014) An endangered black rhino baby is the newest resident at the San Diego Zoo. Sasha Salama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

AP (July 21, 2014) A rise in shark sightings along the shores of Chatham, Massachusetts is driving a surge of eager vacationers to the beach town looking to catch a glimpse of a great white. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

Newsy (July 20, 2014) Cynthia Robinson claims R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company hid the health and addiction risks of its products, leading to the death of her husband in 1996. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins