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?
With Extension Educator colleagues, we are testing various methods to add to farmers' toolkits to deal with increasingly erratic weather and changing consumer preferences. This includes:
using cover crops with raised beds and drip irrigation to deal with drought and high rainfall
Also, 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 communications, newsletter articles, and presentations.
Tong, CBS, H-Y Chang, JJ Luby, D Bedford, BEL Lockhart, RG Kiambi, D Mollov, 2021. Alleviation of postharvest skin dimpling of MN55 apple fruit and its possible association with apple stem pitting virus. HortScience 56: 803–808. https://doi.org/10.21273/HORTSCI15847-21.
Chang, H-Y and CBS Tong. 2020. Identification of candidate genes involved in fruit ripening and crispness retention through transcriptome analyses of a 'Honeycrisp' population. Plants 9:1335, doi:10.3390/plants9101335.
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, 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