Sourcing Sweetness Compounds in Citrus

Josh McGillAll In For Citrus Podcast, Research

A lot goes into a piece of citrus fruit. Down to the molecular level, there’s millions of compounds that make up Florida’s signature crop. Researchers at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) are exploring the genetic building blocks of citrus to learn how individual compounds can be used to enhance the fruit.

Yu Wang

Those applications might be used in the fight against HLB disease, but there’s plenty of other applications. Yu Wang, a UF/IFAS associate professor of food science, has been studying compounds in citrus that are natural sweetness enhancers. Her work could lead to natural sweeteners that stand on their own or could be utilized to enhance sweetness of orange juice. This could help offset challenges the industry has faced in recent years with lower Brix rates in citrus due to the effects of HLB.

Wang recently joined the All In For Citrus podcast to discuss her research. She noted her work could provide alternatives to sugar usage for sweetness. For people with health conditions like Type 2 diabetes, that would be a welcome benefit. These sweeteners also could serve as alternatives to artificial products like saccharin. Some people prefer a product that comes from a natural source. And artificial sweeteners often have a bitter or unpleasant aftertaste. Wang said the citrus compounds are natural and would not have an aftertaste issue.

The hear more about her research, check out the latest episode of All In For Citrus. The podcast is a joint partnership between UF/IFAS and AgNet Media.

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