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    Harper Adams researchers receive funding for new fresh produce collaboration

    Posted 3 February 2022

    A lettuce showing signs of tipburn

    Researchers at the Harper Adams Fresh Produce Research Centre have been awarded UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funding to continue work examining the causes of quality loss in salad crops.

    Dr Andrew Beacham and Professor Jim Monaghan received the research grant as part of the BBSRC Horticultural Quality and Food Loss Network (HortQFLNet) scheme for a project entitled Determining the Molecular and Physiological Basis of Tipburn in Lettuce.

    The project will investigate the development of a commercially important condition of lettuce crops, known as tipburn.

    Dr Beacham said: “Tipburn is a serious problem for lettuce growers as it causes browning and collapse of leaf margins, leading to unsaleable crops.

    “It’s very hard to predict its occurrence, and while thought to be due to poor calcium distribution in leaves, the exact mechanisms causing its development are still unknown.”

    The project builds upon work carried out as part of the Defra-funded Vegetable Genetic Improvement Network, a collaboration with Warwick University. The new project welcomes additional partners from the University of Cambridge, Vertical Future and G’s Growers.

    Research at Harper Adams will investigate the expression of genes thought to be important in tipburn development, while calcium measurements and microscopy will be carried out at the University of Cambridge, with genetic data and expertise supplied by the University of Warwick.

    Dr Beacham added: “This is a great opportunity to combine Harper’s experience in tipburn screening with the calcium imaging expertise of colleagues at Cambridge and genetics at Warwick, plus commercial insight and advice from Vertical Future and G’s.”

    It is hoped that a more thorough understanding of the underlying mechanisms controlling tipburn susceptibility will allow breeding attempts to develop more durable resistant varieties in order to minimise crop losses and food waste.

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