postharvest disorders, apple fruit crispness, environmental effects on postharvest attributes
Dr. Tong is curious about how the preharvest growing environment of certain fruits and vegetables affects their postharvest attributes, such as their sugar content or flavor. She is also trying to understand how the genetics of the 'Honeycrisp' apple and some of its progeny allow it to stay crisp through many months of cold storage, and what environmental factors lead to their development of some storage disorders. In her outreach activities to help Minnesota fruit and vegetable producers deal with their harvest and storage challenges, Dr. Tong is studying ways to better detect and prevent some storage problems of fruits and vegetables.
Genes are the heritable instructions for an organism. The manifestation of those instructions can be altered by the environment in which the organism grows. I am interested in how environment, especially currently changing conditions, interacts with genetics to affect fruit and vegetable quality, especially postharvest disorders. Besides characterizing environment x genetics effects, I want to know if there are ways to detect detrimental effects early enough to help farmers and to offset potential problems.
Specific questions under investigation by my group:
What are the genetic bases underlying postharvest retention of apple fruit crispness?
How do environmental conditions affect the likelihood that some apple varieties will develop storage disorders?
Can we manipulate environmental conditions to grow vegetables in changing environmental conditions, and how does genetics affect that production?
In cooperation with other extension personnel, nonprofit organizations, and grower groups, I help develop and provide education to Minnesota fresh market fruit & vegetable growers through individual communication, newsletter articles, and presentations. I work with the Minnesota Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association, the Minnesota Apple Growers Association, various independent farms, and the coalition that organizes the Emerging Farmers Conference.
Specific Extension projects include:
Developing a food safety recordkeeping app for small and midsized farms
Testing new production methods to help deal with increasingly erratic weather
Moran, R, J DeEll, C Tong. 2020. Regional variation in the index of of absorbance difference as an indicator of maturity and predictor of storage disorders in ‘Honeycrisp’ and ‘McIntosh’ apples grown in Maine, Minnesota and Ontario. HortScience (accepted);
Tong, CBS, R Beaudry, C Contreras, CB Watkins, JF Nock, Z Vickers, K Zhang, JJ Luby, D Bedford. 2019. Postharvest performance of ‘Minneiska’ apple, a progeny of ‘Honeycrisp’. J Amer Pomol Soc 73: 82-94;
Chang, H-Y, ZM Vickers, CBS Tong. 2018. The use of a combination of instrumental methods to assess change in sensory crispness during storage of a ‘Honeycrisp’ apple breeding family. J Texture Studies 49: 228-239. doi: 10.1111/jtxs.12325;
Howard, NP, E van de Weg, J Tillman, C Tong, KAT Silverstein, JJ Luby. 2018.Two QTL identified and characterized for soft scald and soggy breakdown in apple (Malus × domestica) through pedigree based analysis of a large population of interconnected families. Tree Genet Genomes 14:2 doi: 10.1007/s11295-017-1216-y;
Xu, Y, T Ma, NP Howard, C Chen, CBS Tong, G Celio, JR DeEll, RE Moran. 2017. Microstructure of soft scald in ‘Honeycrisp’ apples. J Amer Soc Hort Sci 142:1-6. doi: 10.21273/JASHS04250-17;
Tong, C, M Schermann, F Diez-Gonzalez, J Rossbach. 2017. Food safety risks of leafy greens from small-acreage farms in Minnesota. J Extension 55 Article 4RIB4, available at https://joe.org/joe/2017august/rb4.php;
Rossbach, JD, RC Fink, MJ Sadowsky, C Tong, F Diez-Gonzalez, 2017. Factors influencing the Salmonella internalization into seedpods and whole plants of Arachis hypogaea L. J Food Microbiology 66:184-189. doi: 10.1016/j.fm.2017.05.005;
Tong, C, H-Y Chang, J Boldt, Y Ma, JR DeEll, R Moran, G Bourgeois, D Plouffe. 2016. Diffuse Flesh Browning in ‘Honeycrisp’ Apple Fruit is Associated with Low Temperatures during Fruit Growth. HortScience 51:1256-1264; doi:10.21273/HORTSCI11179-16;
Honors and Awards
CFANS Distinguished Diversity and Inclusion Award (Faculty), 2014
Thank a Teacher, 2007
Community-University Connections partnership, 2002