Freshman Scholars Program 2014

Alteration of Flavor and Metabolite Profile of Tomatoes Infected with Root-Knot Nematodes

Instructor:  Laura Grochowski, Ph.D.


Project Description:

Students interested in chemistry, biology, or agriculture.

Root-knot nematodes are agricultural pests that cause significant damage to both ornamental and agricultural plants. Root-knot nematodes attack the roots of healthy plants, causing a reduction in overall crop yields.  Rutgers tomatoes are known to be highly susceptible to nematode infestation; however, it has been observed that the taste of the tomatoes is improved in plants infected with nematodes.  The alteration in fruit flavor in tomatoes may be due to changes in secondary metabolites production by the plants in response to the nematodes.  Tests will be performed to understand the chemical changes that the plants undergo when they are subjected to root-knot nematodes.  Both chemical and sensory studies will be performed on tomatoes from plants exposed to the nematodes, as well as tomatoes from non-infected plants.  HPLC coupled with mass spectrometry will be used to analyze the metabolite profile of Rutgers tomatoes following exposure and/or infection by the nematodes and will be compared to the profiles of unexposed plants.



Laura Grochowski, Ph.D.

Dr. Laura Grochowski obtained a BS in Plant Biology from Delaware Valley College and a Ph.D. in Medicinal Chemistry from Oregon State University where she studied antibiotic biosynthesis in soil and marine organisms. She then moved on to a post-doctoral position at Virginia Tech where she focused on the biosynthesis of coenzymes involved in the biological production of methane.

If you have specific questions about this project, please contact Dr. Grochowski directly at LGrochowski@ferrum.edu.

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