My program has three main research lines including a) the development of novel post-harvest technologies, b) understanding the biosynthesis of secondary metabolites in plants under stress conditions and c) drug discovery. The following are descriptions of current projects within these research lines.
On one side we study the use of appropriate post-harvest technologies that can keep the quality, safety and extend the shelf-life of different types of fruit and vegetables. Recent projects focus on understanding microbe-surface interactions which will be used as basis for the development of strategies for prevention and decontamination of human pathogens.
We also study the biosynthesis of secondary metabolites in plants with health promoting properties. For this purpose we use controlled abiotic stresses in pre- and/or post-harvest conditions to enhance the accumulation of targeted bioactive compounds. Understanding the molecular mechanism of compound biosynthesis will allow us to design appropriate technologies based on simple use of stresses.
Current projects on our bioactive compound discovery studies (drug discovery) include different plant sources such as fruit, grains, vegetables and herbs commercially available (e.g., growers, farmers, seed companies) or from centers of biodiversity (e.g., Amazon, Andean region, Mexico) using an array of biochemical, biological and molecular assays associated to chronic diseases. We have studied for the past few years different chronic diseases including cancer, the metabolic syndrome (obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease) and chronic inflammation. We screen plants, identify compounds, determine the molecular mechanism involved in the biological activity, define compound extraction methods and determine their stability properties.
Our research approach is based on basic science and practical application components. Our ultimate goals are to generate information that potentially may be used to design post-harvest strategies to provide high quality and healthier products to consumers. On the other hand our bioactive compound discovery work has the potential to provide value-added to a diverse range of crops and the possibility to reach high value health markets such as the functional foods, dietary supplements, cosmetics and pharmaceutical.
In addition, our group has a very active international component of research collaborations in Europe and Latin America.
- Noratto G, Porter W, Byrne D and Cisneros-Zevallos L. 2009. Identifying peach and plum polyphenolics with chemopreventive potential against breast cancer cells and low toxicity in normal cells. J. Agric. Food Chem. 57, 5219-5226
- Heredia B and Cisneros-Zevallos L. 2009. The effect of exogenous ethylene and methyl jasmonate on PAL activity, phenolic profiles and antioxidant capacity of carrots (Daucus carota L.) under different wounding intensities. Postharvest Biology & Technology, 51, 242-249.