Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Researching Blackberry Compounds

Blackberry fruits are green at first, then turn to red and black as anthocyanins accumulate.

Hi, I’m Moo Jung Kim and I’m a PhD student at North Carolina State University. I am studying the storage attributes and bioactive content of organically grown blackberries. This study is part of NIFA-USDA-OREI grant being conducted by Oregon State University and North Carolina State University (http://cris.nifa.usda.gov/cgi-bin/starfinder/0?path=fastlink1.txt&id=anon&pass=&search=R=40647&format=WEBFMT6NT).

North Carolina is an important blackberry producer of fresh market blackberries. As fresh  blackberries are highly perishable, determining storage conditions that can maintain postharvest quality is very important. In 2011 and 2012, I stored 3 blackberry cultivars, ‘Navaho’, ‘Ouachita’ and ‘Natchez’ that were grown organically at a North Carolina commercial farm. The berries were brought back to the lab and stored at 1) 34°F for 15 days or 2) 34°F for 13 days plus at 68°F for the next 2 days. Our results showed that storage conditions greatly influenced postharvest quality (the best temperature regime was constant 34°F). We did not find large differences in how well each of the cultivars fared in storage. One of the treatments was done to simulate sitting out on the counter at home. We found that exposure to room temperatures (68°F) during storage significantly increased leakage, decay and fruit softening.

Blackberry is a fruit of interest because blackberries are known to have compounds that are good for you. In fact, blackberries are good source of vitamins A, C, and E, folic acid, iron, potassium, and fiber. Moreover, blackberries are rich in anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are plant pigment that make blackberries black and strawberries red, and these pigments have been studied for their health benefits against various symptoms and diseases such as oxidation, inflammation, and cancers. I have analyzed anthocyanin content in organically grown blackberries and investigated how  the compound changed during storage.  This summer, I will be testing anti-inflammatory activity of blackberries in cell cultures. I am excited to learn more about bioactive compounds and health benefits of blackberries this summer!
These tubes contain blackberry extracts that will be used to analyze anthocyanin content.


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