The International Postharvest Symposium, held every four years, represents undoubtedly the biggest event in the field of postharvest science and technology. On this occasion around 500 experts from all places around the world met in Antalya, Turkey, to exchange ideas and debate the current technologies and science in the area of postharvest. When I was accepted to present my work at this event I was delighted. As a student coming to the end of my PhD this was a great occasion not only to show part of the work I undertake in the Plant Science Laboratory at Cranfield under the supervision of Dr Leon Terry, but also to interact, meet and exchange ideas with experts from all over the world.
The symposium was structured to include plenary as well as three parallel sessions covering a wide range of topics from technology, physiology and pathology. In addition, more than 300 posters were displayed during the conference. I had the chance to present different aspects of my work including the effect of storage temperature on quality and nutritional value of blackcurrant (Ribes nigrum L.) berries and also preliminary results on the application of biosensors to measure quality attributes of berries.
With the current issues surrounding food demand and availability, a conference such as this is essential since continuously improving postharvest practices and technology often results in reduced food losses, improved overall quality and safety, and hence, greater benefits for growers and the wider food industry. In the particular case of berries, which is currently my main area of interest, the rapid loss of quality attributes after harvest is one of the main limiting factors for the restricted availability of these fruits in the fresh market. By using a bespoke aluminum temperature block we were able to elucidate the changes in both quality (viz sugar and acids) and nutritional (viz anthocyanins, ascorbate) attributes of blackcurrant berries stored at temperatures ranging from 1 to 20ºC in 1ºC intervals. This work may provide suitable information for optimising storage conditions and hence extending or improving shelf-life of these berries. In addition to the study of the effect of preharvest and postharvest treatments on berry quality, the main focus of my PhD is to assess the applicability of biosensors for improved soft-fruit quality control. Biosensors, which have had their main application in the medical diagnostics field, and in particular to monitor glucose levels in blood, are perfect candidates for use in the fresh-produce market. Our main areas of research aim to develop biosensors to measure specific analytes that are key indicators of fresh-produce quality.
Organisation of the conference, venue and the scientific programme were excellent, since we had the chance to attend a wide range of talks, and after that, to enjoy the delights of Antalya. This symposium gave me the opportunity to disseminate my work through the scientific community and allow me to interact and discuss the topic with multidisciplinary groups of horticultural scientists, nutritionists, postharvest scientist, food scientists, etc.
It was a really useful experience and once again I greatly appreciate the funding provided by SCI which enabled me to attend this conference.
Jordi Giné Bordonaba