Low temperature and low light intensity storage to increase shelf-life of butterhead lettuce

We have found before that quality deterioration of lettuce during postharvest storage is delayed by low temperature in combination with very low light levels (about 5 ┬Ámol m-2 s-1). This is likely caused by ongoing photosynthesis and greatly reduced respiration rates. Think of using of LED lighting in your fridge to keep lettuce tasty for longer! To find out more about this exciting phenomenon, we aim to investigate the effect of low light intensity/light quality (white/blue/green) and light pulsing (blue-green-blue and green-blue-green), on:  

  1. shelf-life, especially with regards to sugar and ascorbic acid content. 
  2. stomatal conductance and transpiration, especially with regards to green light pulsing
  3. Rates of photosynthesis and respiration. Is it possible to quantify photosynthesis and respiration accurately in these challenging conditions (low temperature/ low intensity)?
  4. The role of a signaling sugar (trehalose-6 phosphate (T6P)). T6P is linked with stomatal opening, photosynthesis (sucrose synthesis) and senescence.  Can you quantify T6P in senescing butterhead lettuce, using state of the art HPLC/LCMS-MS systems?

Likely, you will build small containers with a variety of light LED modules stored in the cold, and investigate one or more of the options stated above. Alternatively, we invite you to come up with your own innovative approach to investigate the effects of low temperature/low light intensity on lettuce quality.

Used skills

  • Gas exchange measurements
  • HPLC
  • Data analysis

Interested in doing a BSc or MSc thesis at HPP? Please contact the HPP student coordinator Katharina Hanika.