Zakharov Lab



Volatile compound collection

Our research focuses on understanding plant volatile metabolism in the context of 1) aroma development in fruits and vegetables, and 2) plant defense mechanisms against pests.

Although much progress has been made in achieving and maintaining good appearance quality of fruits and vegetables, there is a general consensus that flavor quality is “the last frontier." Repeat purchases are often prevented due to consumer’s dissatisfaction with product flavor quality. Flavor, defined as the combined sensation derived from taste and aroma, is a complex trait that is still poorly understood at analytical, biochemical and molecular levels. Our research investigates how volatile compounds (which confer the aroma of fruits and vegetables) are formed during fruit development and ripening, and how postharvest storage conditions affect their production.

Volatiles also serve as the plant’s interface with the environment, and have been shown to play important roles in protecting plants against pests. Understanding defense-related volatile biosynthesis could open new avenues for harnessing plant natural defenses against pests.


Branched-chain amino acid-derived volatile ester biosynthesis in melon
This project investigates the biochemical route(s) of branched-chain amino acid breakdown giving rise to short branched chain aldehydes, which serve as precursors for the production of volatile esters. (read more...)

Norisoprenoid formation in grape berries
The goal of this project is to understand the role of Carotenoid Cleavage Dioxygenases in the biosynthesis of norisoprenoids in grape berries. (read more...)

Flavor development in apricots
We are investigating the effect of harvest maturity, storage temperature and 1-MCP treatment on postharvest flavor quality of apricots. (read more...)

Genetics of hot pepper flavor
A segregating F2 population has been generated from a cross between a Jalapeño and a Habanero pepper. The population will be profiled for fruit volatiles and capsaicinoids and genotyped using molecular markers (SSR and SRAP) to study the genetic inheritance of these traits. (read more...)

Metabolic profiling of developing Citrus fruits
Targeted metabolic profile of Citrus juice sac cells for selected primary and secondary metabolites will be compared to a proteome database to study the molecular determinants of fruit flavor development in Citrus. (read more...)

Volatile defense compounds in Citrus
This project focuses on developing disease management strategies for the Citrus Greening Disease (also known as Huanglongbing, or HLB) which is currently the most destructive Citrus disease in the US. The volatile compound dimethyl disulfide has been shown to be a potent repellent of the HLB insect vector, the Asian Citrus Psyllid. Our lab will be involved in developing Citrus rootstocks producing dimethyl disulfide for use as biological barriers. (read more...)



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