What is Andrew Disharoon up to these days?
What are you studying?
My current research involves approximately ~1400 cereal grain samples of Sorghum bicolor and Zea mays, derived from two genetic mapping populations of cumulatively ~700 genotypes. These will be metabolically phenotyped using gas chromatography and mass spectroscopy to evaluate compounds underlying flavor. Currently these genotypes are planned to be grown in Pee Dee REC, Florence, SC this summer. Furthermore, as grains are not typically consumed raw, such phenotypic evaluations will also extend to evaluate compounds in products containing grains, such as beverages, and associated those to ones identified in raw grains.
With the phenotypes collected in these mapping populations it will be possible to identify loci which are associated with positive and negative flavor profiles of both grain and grain-derived products. However, the dearth of literature makes it challenging to identify novel compounds for targeted metabolomics simply due to the lack of information on which compounds are present. Therefore a comprehensive non-targeted volatile metabolome of these cereal grains is necessary. Without this, due to the minute concentrations of flavor compounds and their ability interact to form unique sensory experiences, discerning those that are responsible for flavor experiences is near impossible. I am currently growing out a subset genotypes from these aforementioned larger mapping populations for total metabolomic mapping. With information garnered from this experiment it will be possible to identify compounds which likely contribute greatly to flavor and can be the target of genetic improvement.