Strawberries that pack a flavour punch

Researchers are looking at the genetic and environmental factors that influence the taste of strawberries. Credit: RMIT
Researchers are looking at the genetic and environmental factors that influence the taste of strawberries. Credit: RMIT

Why does the same species of strawberry taste different in different countries? How is it that Californian strawberries are loved by locals but fail to impress Down Under?

RMIT University researchers, Assoc. Prof. Eddie Pang and Prof. Phil Marriott, are looking for answers to those questions to help Australian strawberry growers identify which breeds grow best in which region.

The problem lies between the desire of strawberry lovers for the better tasting Australian breeds, which crop for only three months, and the financial needs of farmers, who would clearly prefer the nine-month season of the hardy varieties such as the Californian Selva.

“If you actually taste Californian varieties in California, they taste better there than they do here,” Eddie says. “We bring these varieties over and they are clones, exactly the same genetic material, and we don’t seem to be able to get the same flavour.”

The researchers are testing a hypothesis that it is the interaction between the genes and the environment that determines flavour.

By isolating the compounds and measuring the contribution of each compound to the smell and taste of the strawberry, they hope to figure out the specific environmental factors that influence the flavour of different species of strawberries.

For more information: RMIT University, Gosia Kaszubska, Tel: +61 (3) 9925 3176, +61 (417) 510 735, gosia.kaszubska@rmit.edu.au

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