1. Agriculture World

Bug Attacks Can Make Organic Fruits and Veggies More Healthier Says Report

Pronami Chetia
Pronami Chetia

Although we have been using different pesticides and chemicals to save our crops and plants from different pests and weed, recently science has revealed that there are some healthy bugs in nature which attack your fruits or vegetables to make them even healthier.

As per recent research reports, the plants’ stress responses initiate an increase in antioxidant compounds prior to harvest.

“We conducted studies using strawberries as a crop model and applied various levels of wounding to the leaves a few days before harvesting the fruit. We found how several genes associated with sugar translocation and phenolic compound biosynthesis was overexpressed in the distant strawberry fruit,” says Facundo Ibanez, an investigator for the project from the Instituto Nacional de Investigacion Agropecuaria in Uruguay.

All plants have the ability to respond to the environment by activating the secondary metabolism as part of a defense mechanism or as part of an adaptation process. It also activates the primary metabolism, which will move the carbon source needed to produce those antioxidant compounds, explains Cisneros-Zevallos.

Organic farming in recent years has experienced continued growth and a higher demand among consumers. This has had a positive large-scale impact on the organic industry, farmers, and other industries related to organic produce, says Cisneros-Zevallos.

“There was the existing idea proposed by others that insects present in the field in organic farming could cause a stress response in the plant and increase antioxidant compounds,” said Cisneros-Zevallos. “However, this hypothesis or concept was never tested until now, where we mimicked the damage caused by insects.”

Ibanez says the study emphasized fresh produce as an excellent source of health-promoting compounds and that perhaps insects in some way can be allies to achieve even healthier produce.

“Healthier grown produce for the food industry can be a driving force for large-scale production and an attractive investment to relevant stakeholders,” he says.

As per reports, after several studies published in the past on post-harvest wounding stress effects on different crops, the team was inspired to apply this approach to leaf surfaces in the field that mimicked the attack of insects to the plant.

“Understanding how these antioxidants are produced by simple stress like wounding can certainly transform the way the fresh produce industry operates, including both organic and conventional. And it may allow the industry to adopt novel tools based on pre-harvest stress to favor the accumulation of healthier antioxidants in fresh produce and processed foods”, said the scientist.

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