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Scientists of the James Hutton Institute are investigating the development of resilient flavour characteristics in UK raspberries, as part of Innovate UK-funded research into new fruit breeding models and decision support tools.

Hutton soft fruit scientist and project leader Dr Julie Graham said: “We’ve tried for a long time to try to understand the basis of flavour in raspberries and what we found was it was determined to a very large extent by environmental factors. We also found when we were doing the sensory panels where people are sampling, comparing and rating different varieties of raspberry,  that the data was complex and often conflicting regarding how different assessors ranked flavour.

A key element of the study is to understand how to breed soft fruit effectively in the UK for consistently great flavour. Flavour is a complex trait that is significantly affected by environmental conditions which – in light of more frequent extreme weather events and climate change – are less predictable.

Consistent berry flavour has been a key consumer attribute that has challenged UK breeders and growers, resulting in low consumer acceptance.Understanding what drives flavour perception and how this is influenced by season and environment will allow a breeding model and robust markers to be developed.

Dr Graham said the ability to release appropriate varieties that taste good and are resilient to environmental stress and to do so in a timely manner is key to industry success.

To that end, the Institute has contracted New Zealand firm Delytics Ltd to help the research team understand how to select raspberries that will meet the taste expectations of UK consumers. The firm’s expertise in fruit taste prediction, consumer liking and data analytics is widely recognised.

“Delytics’ understanding of ‘consumer liking’, coupled with our understanding of genetics, will allow us to tailor our breeding programme to produce raspberries consistently with the taste profile that consumers want,” Dr Graham added.

Source: James Hutton Institute 

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