A team of the Centre for Agro-food Research and Technology of Aragón (CITA) is part of a state project that aims to identify the genes associated with quality traits in onions and peppers, so that new varieties can be developed with greater health benefits.

The doctors and researchers that are part of the Aragonese team are Cristina Mallor, Ana Garcés-Claver and Oreto Fayos, who are also collaborating with groups from the University of A Coruña, the University of Burgos and the University of Cádiz. The project has been called "Application of genomic and metabolomic tools for the study of pungent traits in peppers and onions".

Both crops are widely consumed worldwide because they have components with high nutritional and healthy qualities, including those related to spiciness or pungency, with the so-called cysteine ​​sulfoxides in onions and capsicinoids in peppers standing out the most.

However, both consumers and producers demand a greater production of traditional crops and improved versions that contain healthy compounds. This research aims to improve the study of these compounds, isolating and quantifying them to identify the genes that are part of their synthesis.

The research aims to obtain results in the short, medium and long term. Firstly, it will entail the creation of useful tools and methodologies for the productive sector. In the medium term, there will be new varieties with a greater added value, unique characteristics and beneficial qualities.

Lastly, in the longer term, the producers of onions and peppers will be able to make a better use of the phytogenetic resources existing in Spain for these two horticultural crops.

Garcés-Claver and researcher Cristina Silvar, from the University of A Coruña, explained that the projects have "the support of foreign researchers from the Centre for Research and Advanced Studies of the National Polytechnic Institute (Mexico), the University of Turin ( Italy) and the National Institute of Agricultural and Veterinary Research (Portugal)."