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Protecting grapes from pests by boosting their natural immunity

Date:
June 22, 2016
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Wine enthusiasts concerned with potential environmental and health effects of synthetic pesticides prefer to buy “organic” pinots, chardonnays and other varietals. Now scientists are onto a new practice that could help meet that demand. They report that shining short-wavelength ultraviolet light (UV-C) on grapes right before harvest boosts levels of the fruits’ own disease-fighting compounds, which could reduce the need for pesticides.
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Exposing grapes to ultraviolet-C light multiple times before harvest increased their disease-fighting compounds.
Credit: American Chemical Society

Wine enthusiasts concerned with potential environmental and health effects of synthetic pesticides prefer to buy “organic” pinots, chardonnays and other varietals. Now scientists are onto a new practice that could help meet that demand. They report that shining short-wavelength ultraviolet light (UV-C) on grapes right before harvest boosts levels of the fruits’ own disease-fighting compounds, which could reduce the need for pesticides. The study appears in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

As is true for any agricultural producer, vineyard owners need to prevent pathogens from harming their crops to stay in business. For many of them, this means applying synthetic pesticides. Out of concern for these substances’ potential effects on water, soil and human health, some winemakers have turned to more natural methods. One approach scientists are exploring involves the use of UV-C light, which studies have shown increases grapes’ production of stilbenoids. Some of these phenolic compounds have been associated with natural disease resistance. Raúl F. Guerrero from the Andalusian Institute of Agricultural and Fisheries Research and Training (IFAPA) and colleagues wanted to explore how daily doses of pre-harvest UV-C light would affect grapes’ stilbenoid content.

The researchers tested one set of grapes exposed to five minutes of UV-C light every day for three days before harvesting and compared them with another set of grapes that only received one five-minute dose. The latter technique had previously been optimized in grapes. The set that received multiple treatments showed an 86-fold increase in stilbenoid concentrations over the fruit that only got one application of UV-C. The three-day, pre-harvest treatment also affected texture, color and other characteristics, but the researchers say that the grapes were still of good quality.


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Materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Raúl F. Guerrero, Emma Cantos-Villar, Belén Puertas, Tristan Richard. Daily Preharvest UV-C Light Maintains the High Stilbenoid Concentration in Grapes. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2016; DOI: 10.1021/acs.jafc.6b01276

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Protecting grapes from pests by boosting their natural immunity." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 June 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160622110022.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2016, June 22). Protecting grapes from pests by boosting their natural immunity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 27, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160622110022.htm
American Chemical Society. "Protecting grapes from pests by boosting their natural immunity." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160622110022.htm (accessed May 27, 2017).

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