Apples are the most consumed fruit in the US and both anectdotally and actually keep the doctor away. But apple breeding is challenged by many factors. We are working to aid the process of breeding healthier apples by better understanding apple genome-metabolite relationships.
Metabolomics allows the comprehensive profiling of hundreds to thousands of small molecules present within a system. By using this approach, we can understand how metabolic changes (in plants, cells, animals, or people) are affected by our research question, and generate new ideas we may not be able to a priori hypothesize.
In order to understand what phytochemicals are doing within a system, robust and quantitative methods are required for their analysis. We focus on developing liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry based methods to allow analysis of phytochemicals and their metabolites, often present at picomolar concentrations.
To determine the in vivo health impacts of fruits and vegetables and their constituent phytochemicals, we conduct studies in animals and humans. We look to understand absorption, metabolism, distribution, excretion, and effect on development of disease.
We are working to understand the profile and concentrations of tomato alkaloids across germplasm, their genetic control in fruits, and their absorption/distribution/metabolism/excretion/health impact in those who enjoy tomatoes.