A Queensland researcher says understanding the role vitamin C plays in the fruit development process could help farmers grow healthier crops and could even help them prepare for drought.
Working with kiwi fruit, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology identified how the fruit makes and regulates the level of vitamin C within its cells.
Agricultural biotechnology Professor Roger Hellens said the findings could ultimately help plant breeders understand how to turn low vitamin C crops, such as bananas, into high ones.
“Vitamin C is very important to plants. It helps them in times of stress,” Professor Hellens said.
“So changing the level of vitamin C in a plant might make them more resistance to drought, for instance.
“But really our main drive is trying to increase the level in the fruit that we eat.
“That’s because vitamin c is very important…with a range of important contributions to our diet.
“One of the most important is its ability to increase the bio-availability of iron in our diet.”
Professor Hellens said more research was needed to understand why some fruits had high levels of vitamin C and others did not.
“Kiwi fruits are high [in vitamin C], but there’s lots of others fruits, like tomatoes, apples and bananas, which are actually quite low in vitamin C but they are very popular commodity fruits that people eat all the time,” she said.
“If we believe that increasing vitamin C in our diets has some health benefits, wouldn’t it be great to increase the level of vitamin C in some of the fruits and vegetables that we eat on a really regular basis?”