Research in Organic Blueberry Production

Horticulture and Health
By Roman J. Miller, professor of biology

Research in Organic Blueberry Production by Professor Roman MillerResearch spanning 2014-16 includes three areas related to blueberries:

  1. horticulture quality
  2. product development
  3. health benefits

We’ll examine organic practices that enhance optimal blueberry production and quality. Focus will be on the blueberry production site at Knoll Acres. A website that describes this project more fully can be found at: Field work done on this project during the summer months (May, June, July, and August) may be financially supported, depending upon grant funding. Field work may consist of blueberry plant care, assessing plant vigor, harvesting blueberries, measuring production, assessing production quality through antioxidant assays, brix levels, etc. A related project will examine the microstructure (histological) characteristics of blueberry fruits which will be done during the fall/winter semesters.

We’ll develop a “value-added product” for consumers using organic blueberries as the basis. Primary effort will focus on protocol development such as the optimal method of drying blueberries for inclusion as a product or ingredient for retail sale as well as developing other blueberry products such as blueberry vinegar, jelly, or baked goods. Pending grant funding, financial support may be available for work in this project area.

We’ll begin tracing the potential beneficial consequences of blueberry components (primarily anthocyanins, the primary antioxidant compounds in blueberries) in mouse development. Our mammalian model system examines and compares embryo development trends during the early periods of mouse pregnancy within several maternal treatment groups: control, binge alcohol, and binge alcohol + anthocyanins. Embryo effects — number, size, developmental stage, and selected organ parameters will be assessed. Much of this project will commence during the summer months of 2014, and be completed in the following academic semester(s).