Category Archives: University of Guelph

Peeling back the cancer-fighting potential of Ontario-grown onions

By Jane Robinson

Guelph – There’s a new reason to cry when you peel back the layers on a local Ontario onion in your kitchen…tears of joy, that is.

New research at the University of Guelph has found a way to safely extract the free-radical fighting properties of Ontario-grown onions, creating new opportunities for Ontario farmers and the nutraceutical and food production industries.

In the not-so-distant future, you could be enjoying the healthy properties of onions through supplements, additives and creams.

Scientist have long known that onions carry the highest content of quercetin (an antioxidant flavonoid) of nearly 40 different fruits and vegetables. Flavonoids like quercetin attract and neutralize free radicals – the naturally-occurring molecules in human tissue that can lead to cancerous cells.

Suresh Neethirajan, a bioengineering researcher in the School of Engineering at the University of Guelph, is in the final phase of an Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) funded project examining the varying levels of quercetin in Ontario-grown onions. Continue reading

Dairy cow embryos hold promise for improving human in vitro success

Pavneesh Madan

By Jane Robinson

Guelph – Pavneesh Madan was just about eight years old when he first peered at an embryo under a microscope. That first glimpse began his lifelong focus on fertilized eggs, and particularly the field of early embryonic mortality in dairy cattle.

Madan is an associate professor, veterinarian and researcher at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, and for the past several years he’s been working on ways to identify healthy and unhealthy dairy embryos before they are used in embryo transfer.

“Early embryonic mortality costs dairy farmers a lot of money,” says Madan.

He cites a United Nations survey that put global losses at $1.8 trillion annually for embryonic mortality in beef and dairy cattle around the world.

“Maybe we can prevent some of these losses by understanding how the embryo develops, how to recognize a healthy or unhealthy embryo in the first few days of development, and then being able to choose only the good ones,” he says. Continue reading

When the time is ripe: New, natural formula helps farmers manage harvest time

Tree in front with fruit sprayed; trees to the left and right not sprayed

By Lisa McLean

Vineland – Why do the best fruits seem to have the shortest shelf life? It’s a challenge that plagues fresh fruit markets around the world, and has real implications for consumers and fruit growers.

Now, new research from University of Guelph has led to the development of a product that extends the shelf life of fresh fruits by days and even weeks, and it is showing promise in food insecure regions around the world.

“In people and in fruit, skin shrinks with age — it’s part of the life cycle, as the membranes start losing their tightness,” said Jay Subramanian, Professor of Tree Fruit Breeding and Biotechnology at the University of Guelph, who works from the Vineland research station. “Now we know the enzymes responsible for that process can be slowed.”

The secret, according to Subramanian, is in hexanal, a compound that is naturally produced by every plant in the world. His lab has developed a formulation that includes a higher concentration of hexanal to keep fruit fresh for longer.

Subramanian’s research team began experimenting with applying their formula to sweet cherry and peaches in the Niagara region. They found they were able to extend the shelf life of both fruits and spraying the formula directly on the plant prior to harvest worked as well as using it as a dip for newly harvested fruit. Continue reading

Innovative technologies help Holland Marsh growers protect their crops

This week’s story comes to us from the Agricultural Adaptation Council.

By Lilian Schaer

Bradford – Collaboration between vegetable growers, a farm organization, and a grower co-operative is leading to improved plant health and more efficient vegetable production in the Holland Marsh.

The Bradford Co-op, the Fresh Vegetable Growers of Ontario and individual vegetable growers in the Holland Marsh – an extremely fertile vegetable growing area near Bradford just north of Toronto – are collaborating on a project with the University of Guelph to test innovative technologies that will make their Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs for key crops like onions and carrots more efficient and cost effective. Continue reading

A genetic library for beer

Researchers work to fine-tune hop cultivar cloning and preservation

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From left to right, Max Jones, Praveen Saxena, Elena Popov, Mukund Shukla and Sherif Sherif, Gosling Institute, University of Guelph

By Matt McIntosh for AgInnovation Ontario

Guelph – The University of Guelph may soon house a vast new library. Not one of literature and large dusty tomes, though, but one focused on hops – a mainstay of beer making.

Spurred by the explosion of Canada’s craft beer industry, the University’s Department of Plant Agriculture has started a project to compile, save, and efficiently propagate important Canadian hop varieties.

According to Dr. Praveen Saxena, plant science professor and one of several researchers involved in the initiative, the purpose of the project is two-fold.

“There are many very unique and sometimes very rare hops that people have developed over a very long time, and they must be saved in order for people to access them,” says Saxena. Continue reading