Using genomics and light to manipulate flavor, nutrition of crops

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Crop scientist Kevin Folta of the University of Florida is renowned for his tireless efforts in science communication…. He’s less well known for the work he does in the lab studying the effects of light on plant properties and behavior.

Looking at the impact of the light spectrum on plant growth and crop traits at the genetic level, his lab uses applied genomics to pair plant breeding with … lighting technologies to nudge crops in useful directions, increasing nutritional profiles and improving flavor. The insights can even be used on fruits and vegetables after they’ve been picked.

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FAFDL: Why light? What first sparked your interest to see if various wavelengths of light could impact plants in different ways?

KF: Light is information to plants. …[B]lue, red, green, UV and invisible light off the edge of the red spectrum end strongly influence how a plant grows and behaves. We’re using that information to talk to plants in a language they understand.

FAFDL: Does manipulating light stress out the plants…?

KF: Absolutely. But one of the effects of stress is a change in … secondary metabolites to cope with stress. This can have a positive or negative effect on antioxidants, flavors, whatever…

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Kevin Folta: The FAFDL Interview