Lead researcher: 
Ana Garcés Claver
100.000 €
Pepper (Capsicum spp.) and onion (Allium cepa L.) are two of the most important horticultural crops worldwide. Their consumption has increased continuously over the last decades and currently the society (consumers and producers) not only require an increased production of traditional fruits but also improved varieties which contain healthy compounds. Both pepper and onion have shown to possess components with nutritional and/or healthy qualities. These include those related to the hotness or pungency, the so-called cysteine sulfoxides in onion and the capsicinoides and capsinoides in pepper. The detailed analysis of these compounds, as well as the molecular bases that control its production has been often disadvantaged both by problems inherent to the crops as by the absence of affordable methodologies with the sufficient degree of optimization. In this project, three main objectives are established with the aim of going deeper into the study of these compounds. 
The first objective focuses in the assessment of the metabolic profile associated with the pungent character in peppers and onions, as well as its relationship to other compounds of interest (antioxidant capacity, polyphenols, quercetin, and capacity of inhibiting the oxidation of fats such as cholesterol) through analytical techniques specifically improved for these compounds. 
The second objective will deal with the genetic study of the pungent character in pepper and onion through the application of next generation sequencing tools, both at the transcriptome (RNA-seq) and at the genome (Genotyping-by Sequencing) levels. 
Finally, in the third goal, the combination of genomic and metabolic outcomes will be addressed in order to identify the genomic regions and genes involved in the pungency trait, by Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS) and validation with qRT-PCR. The different approaches proposed in this project will allow generating tools and methodologies useful in the short term for the productive sector, in the medium term for the development of highly valuable varieties holding differentiating features and healthy qualities, and in the long term, for a better exploitation of the horticultural genetic resources available in Spain.
Project members: 
Cristina Mallor Giménez, Oreto Fayos Avellán (CITA); Octavio Martínez de la Vega y Neftalí Ochoa Alejo (Instituto Politécnico Nacional); Montserrat Collado Fernández (U. Burgos); Ceferino Carrera Fernández y Gerardo Fernández Barbero (U. Cádiz); José Miguel Cano Suárez (Pesquero Verde Alto)