The sensory representation of the external chemical world in the brain is a translation of chemical features into patterns of brain activity. It is the nature these patterns—how that are established by stimulant patterns, how they vary in a population, and ultimately how they interact with other brain functions, e.g. emotions (joy) or behavior (buying wine)—that is the object of our research. We study aroma perception in order to provide information about food composition to producers that will allow them to produce likable, healthy and more profitable products.
The Apple Physiology and Culture program at Cornell has developed over the past 20 years an integrated crop physiology approach with field experimentation and dynamic crop modeling that has substantially improved the understanding of the complex behavior of apple orchards in the variable environment. Outputs from the model are providing critical real-time quantitative information helping growers optimize their orchard management, especially control of the yield, for better profitability.
The primary focus of this project is to support the existing and expanding grape and wine industries in New York and other states east of the Rocky Mountains by increasing the abilities of grape producers and their advisers to manage infectious diseases that limit profitability and preclude sustainable production if not addressed adequately. Additionally, the project has several components that are applicable to the grape industry in the western U.S. and to those in overseas locations.
Apple replant disease occurs worldwide and was previously controlled by methyl bromide soil fumigation. We continue to evaluate non-chemical methods for controlling this serious disease problem, and studying the microbial bases for its causation and control. Our recent work has shown that several new rootstocks developed at Cornell have substantial resistance to this soil-borne disease, and may eliminate the need for soil fumigation.
Quality wine production depends on maintaining proper microbiological control during the transformation of grape juice into wine and its conservation. Our research provides microbiological techniques that allow winemakers to reduce microbial products, which can cause negative effects—such as headaches—to wine consumers, thus increasing the percentage of consumers able to take advantage of the health benefits related to moderate wine consumption.
Selectable marker genes are widely used for the efficient transformation of crop plants. In most cases, selection is based on genes for antibiotic or herbicide resistance, which are most efficient. Due mainly to consumer and grower concerns, considerable effort has been put into developing strategies to eliminate marker genes from plants after transformation. However, these methods are generally of low efficiency.
Cold-hardy, disease-resistant wine grape varieties are helping fuel the rise of the grape and wine industry in New York and other regions of the U.S. Along with expansion of this agricultural industry comes a significant boost to the economy through tourism (retail, restaurants, winery visitors, hotels, tasting room sales of related products, etc.). There is continuing demand for new, high-quality wine grapes that can reduce pesticide applications, reduce the cost of production, and expand the range of sites on which grapes can be grown.