Postharvest Physiology, Pathology and Biotechnology
The group of Physiology, Postharvest Pathology and Biotechnology dedicates its activity to the study of the quality of the fruit and its maintenance during posthravest storage. In our research project we use different multidisciplinary approaches and estretegies to understanding the physiological and molecular mechanisms related to fruit quality during post-harvest. We also address the development of storege technologies to prevent or reduce pos harvest losses caused by physiological and pathological disorders. Our research is mainly focused, but not exclusively, on citrus fruits.
The main objective of our research is fruit quality of its maintenance during postharvest storage. This general objective is developed in the following specific objectives:
- Physiological changes during postharvest storage of fruits. The group is addressing, the origin and causes of the abiotic factors provoking disorders. Our interest is to understand and characterize physiological, biochemical and molecular responses of the fruit against these abiotic stresses. These studies have been mainly focused on Citrus fruits, and using natural genetic variability of species susceptible and resistant to the disorders and functional genomic approaches and high-throughput technologies.
- Metabolic pathways of key components involved in organoleptic and nutritional fruit quality. Main metabolic pathway currently addressing in our group, emphasized the biosynthesis and regulation of carotenoid content and composition. We also studying emission of volatile compounds, metabolism of vitamin C and phenylpropanoid metabolism.
- Studies of fruit-pathogen interaction. Research in our working group is related to the characterization of the postharvest interaction between apple and citrus fruits and fungal pathogens of the genus Penicillium, main rots of these crops. Currently, we are using molecular genetics, genomic, transcriptomic and metabolomic strategies, with the aim to understand the basis of compatible and incompatible interactions between fruit and pathogen. We are addressing both fruit defense responses against different fungi and the mechanisms and determinants of pathogenicity and virulence of the fungus.
- Development of alternative strategies to control postharvest fungal pathogens. The group is also working on new approaches and alternative control methods to the use of postharvest fungicides. Physical treatments, such as thermal treatments or irradiation with light at different wavelengths, inducing natural defense response in the fruit are being studied. The biochemical characterization of these defense responses is helping to identify metabolites and signaling pathways in the fruit that could be used as a natural control of the rots. We also work in the identification, rational design, mechanisms of action and production of small bioactive peptides with specific antifungal activity against fungal pathogens, especially fungi causing postharvest rots.