Investigation of Plant Volatiles on Grapes and Wine

Grapes will be exposed to volatiles from plants to investigate if the sensory profile of wine made from those grapes can be improved. The volatiles from forest fire smoke can get into grapes and negatively affect the sensory profile of wines, which is referred to as smoke taint. Grapes are most susceptible to smoke taint during their ripening stage, or veraison. Using this logic, the grapes will be subjected to plant volatiles during veraison.

Clarifying the biochemical basis of smoke-taint in grapes and wines

When grapevines are exposed to forest fire smoke they often trap the compounds responsible for the odour of smoke within the ripening berries. Through poorly understood processes, grapes may transform these compounds into forms that are not readily detected by smell or current testing procedures. The yeasts used for fermentation may break down these storage forms, regenerating the smoky aroma and tainting the resulting wines.

Quantifying the Effects of Stress and Mycorrhizal Relations on the Production of Phytocannabinoids in Rhododendron dauricum and its Fungal Symbiont Albatrellus ovinus

Rhododendron dauricum produces medicinal compounds that are similar to cannabinoids (e.g. CBD). Cannabis plants are exposed to stress to increase their production of cannabinoids. The effect of stress on the production of medicinal compounds in R. dauricum is unknown. R. dauricum has a symbiotic relationship with a fungus, Albatrel/us ovinus, that produces similar medicinal compounds. The effect of A. ovinus on R. dauricum's medicinal compound concentration is unknown. This project aims to discover growing conditions to increase the yield of these compounds.

Metabolic and biochemical characterization of terpenoid profiles in the high-value plants hop (Humulus lupulus), tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia), and cannabis (Cannabis sativa)

Despite advances in biotechnology and organic synthesis, plants remain the main source of many of high-value bioactive compounds used in the medical, fragrance and food industries. Increasing demand for bioactive plants (e.g., cannabis and extracts thereof) require robust authentication approaches to verify feedstock, identify product adulteration and ensure product safety for consumers.

Applying Low-Field, Bench-Top NMR Technology for the Rapid, On-Site Analysis of Critical Metrics in Wine Grapes and Wine

Vineyards, as with many other agriculture-based industries, often deal with time-sensitive decisions regarding how to manage their grapes to ensure the production of high-quality crops. Similarly, wineries need information quickly during fermentation to help guide winemaker interventions. Existing methods of obtaining the information needed by grape growers and winemakers is often time-intensive to collect.

Development of wine smoke-taint analysis strategies to provide more accurate risk-assessments and guide in-winery and in-vineyard amelioration methods

The proposed research project will focus on understanding the in-vineyard and in-winery mechanisms responsible for the phenomenon of smoke-taint in wines—that is, the tendency of grapes exposed to forest fire smoke to produce smoke-flavoured wines in the absence of any perceptible aroma in the grapes. Of interest here is discerning exactly how the flavoured compounds of smoke are biochemically stored within ripening grapes in addition to how they are released again by yeast enzymes during the fermentation process.

The application of Dried Blood Spot samples to Nutraceutical Metabolomics studies and related applications using LCMS based detection

The current approach for testing compounds of interest in blood such as drugs or nutrients involves drawing blood samples into vials that then require refrigeration prior to testing. Since transportation to remote laboratories is challenging, people need to go into medical labs to have their blood tested. This research will develop improved techniques that enable blood samples to be collected from a finger prick onto a specially designed card that eliminates biohazards and makes the sample stable at room temperature so that it could be mailed or sent by courier to a lab.

Development of analytical methods to monitor Curcumin compounds from Dried blood spot (DBS) samples

The work will develop a simple blood test that will enable the detection of a valuable Natural Health Product, Curcumin, that is commonly found in Tumeric, to be detected in blood samples from only a simple finger prick. It is believed that curcumin has important medicinal effects such as anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant activities. However, it is known that Curcumin absorption is quite low from simple consumption of turmeric and as a result a simple blood test will enable proper estimation of body absorption amounts for this valuable Natural Health Product.