Research

Recent publications from our lab

Schaber, M.A. and I.L. Goldman. 2013. Visual versus marker-based selection of hybrid progency in fertile x fertile beet and carrot crosses. Crop Science. 53:1419-1426 Schaber and Goldman, 2014

Goldman, I.. 2014. The Future of Breeding Fruit and Vegetables with Human Health Functionality: Realities, Challenges, and Opportunities. HortScience49:133-137 Future of breeding vegetables with health functionality

Luby, C.H., Maeda, H.A., and I.L. Goldman. 2014. Genetic and phonological variation of tocochromanol (Vitamin E) content in wild (Daucus carota L. var. carota) and domesticated carort (D. carota L. var. sativa). Horticulture Research. doi:10.1038/hortres.2014.15 Tocochromanols

Freidig, A., and I.L. Goldman. 2014. Geosmin (2β,6α-Dimethylbicyclo[4.4.0]decan-1β-ol) Production Associated with Beta vulgaris ssp. vulgaris Is Cultivar Specific. J. Agric. Food Chem. 62: 2031–2036 Freidig and Goldman, 2014

Lynn Maher, 2013
Lynn at harvest time

Our research program is currently exploring several themes. We have devoted considerable effort over the years to work on secondary metabolites in carrot, onion, and table beet. We are now pursuing a study on volatiles that are associated with flavor, particularly the geosmins.  Geosmins deliver the earthy flavor to foods and are molecules produced by Streptomyces bacteria that live largely in the soil. Initial investigations suggest the genotypic specificity of geosmin concentration in table beet (work recently completed by Amy Freidig and published by Freidig and Goldman, 2014)  and presence of geosmin even under sterile culture conditions would be difficult to explain if microbial populations were the sole cause of this trait.

We have recently completed a project on assessing tocochromanol levels in carrot during crop production and postharvest storage, as well as during the reproductive life cycle of the plant. This work, conducted by Claire Luby and Hiroshi Maeda and published in Horticulture Research, shed light on the flux of these provitamin compounds in carrot and revealed that while levels increase dramatically during reproductive growth, the levels are in general too low to be nutritionally significant.

Lauren Brzozowski, 2013
Lauren harvesting roots

Another major project in our laboratory focuses on a technique that we now call In situ vernalization; that is, cold-induction of seedlings of a biennial plant to induce flowering without producing the swollen bulb or root/hypotocyl structure. We have been investigating in situ vernalization for the past two years and have found potential for inducing flowering in a shortened time frame for beets and, to a much smaller extent, onions. These approaches may have application in breeding and in seed production, and we are attempting to delve more deeply into the mechanisms of rapid flowering in onion.

Sovereign Carrot
‘Sovereign’ open source carrot

Finally, we have invested substantial effort in developing an open source seed model for varietal release. More information on our open source project can be found here. Corresponding to that outreach effort is a research project that investigates the proportion of key traits in carrot that are controlled by genes for which we have “freedom to operate” and the proportion that is legally restricted. Using maps of phenotypic variation superimposed on maps depicting germplasm restrictions, we are assembling populations of carrot that contain unrestricted genes, for use in breeding anywhere in the world that carrots grow. We hope to be able to release these populations through the open source framework so that they can have maximum utility for farmers, gardeners, and breeders.

Our breeding work and our research programs are intertwined. We are selecting and evaluating in both conventional and organic environments. We have long-standing partnerships with farmers who have helped support our breeding activities, with the network of Agriculture Research Stations in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and with scientists at seed companies. These partnerships are critical to the continuation of our breeding and research programs.

Our program is a member of the Vegetable Breeding Institute, a public-private partnership fostering interaction between public breeders and vegetable seed companies. For more information on the Vegetable Breeding Institute, follow this link. Our breeding programs, particularly graduate student support for plant breeding in organic systems, have also been supported by Seed MattersCeres Trust, and NC-SARE.