Dr. Csanad Gurdon
Generating Urban Food Systems Solutions
Dr. John Reich
FFAR award amount $2,591,231
Year Awarded 2020
Total award amount $4,792,131
Location Washington, DC 2004
Matching Funders Aerofarms, BASF, Benson Hill, Fluence, GreenVenus
Lettuce is a popular but perishable product, and up to 46 percent of head lettuce and 55 percent of fresh romaine and leaf lettuce is wasted. A major cause of rejection is the postharvest discoloration of leaves, which can reduce flavor, nutrition, consumer appeal and shelf life. While postharvest methods of preventing discoloration can be costly and short-term, controlling the environmental conditions in which lettuce is grown can lead to longer shelf life and accelerated growth.
In its first project, our Precision Indoor Plants Consortium is convening researchers to determine how biological and environmental conditions during growth can influence lettuce postharvest discoloration, yield and leaf quality. The research includes examining the effects of changes in the indoor growth environment on traits of interest, and screening cultivars to determine which ones are the best for controlled environment agriculture. In addition, genetic markers and metabolites associated with these traits of interest are being identified, and candidate genes edited to obtain lines with longer shelf life.
Lettuce has a wealth of resources available to researchers, and the results of the project will have implications for growing lettuce in any environment and growing other crops in indoor systems. A variety of stakeholders will benefit from this project.
The PIP Lettuce Project will control environmental and genetic conditions using indoor growing systems to explore how these are related to two complex and separate traits—postharvest discoloration and accelerated growth without decrease in leaf quality.
We build public-private partnerships to fund audacious research addressing big challenges in food and agriculture. PIP partners are sharing their data and technology with each other, modeling future public-private efforts necessary for similar large-scale agriculture research.
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