INCREASING LIFESPAN IN CARROTS

Katie Schulz Theme: Biocatalysis & Biotransformation, Sustainable Feedstock Cohort Year: 2017 Academic Partner: Industry Partner: Kettle Produce Ltd

Supervisor: Prof. Christine Foyer

My name is Katie Schulz and I previously studied Biology at Aberystwyth University with a particular interest in genetics and plant biology. This led me to do a 3 month BBSRC Research Placement at the Warwick Crop Centre, focusing on Entomology and Plant Pathology. During this placement I worked closely with several PhD students and I discovered a keen interest in pursuing a future career in research, particularly focusing on crop sustainability and pest management.

I am now a PhD research student at the University of Leeds and my project is called ‘Increasing Lifespan in Carrots: Determining the molecular and metabolic mechanisms that underpin the blackening phenomenon in cut carrots’.

This blackening phenomenon causes the carrots to turn black and loose their taste, and has mostly been seen in supermarkets where the discoloration is seen and all affected bags of carrots are thrown away, causing unnecessary food waste and commercial loss.

The current hypothesis of this project is that this blackening is caused by progressive senescence of the carrots in the ground prior to harvest, and that wounding the carrots by cutting them into carrot sticks when they are already in a senescent state triggers a cell death response.

The aim of this project is to find a way to delay or even stop this blackening phenomenon to increase the shelf life of the product.