Pesticides can be blamed for the subdued flavor and sweetness of strawberries

March 24, 2023 | Food Testing Lab

A study led by Jinling Diao and colleagues identified certified commonly used pesticides that cause bland and watery strawberries with lower nutritional value.

Fungicides are intended to disrupt the cellular processes of detrimental fungi. However, they could also unintentionally interfere with a crop’s cellular mechanisms, impacting the production of flavor and nutritional compounds.The team investigated how two pesticides, boscalid (BOS) and difenoconazole (DIF) influence the molecular pathways in berries. 

Odoo text and image block
Odoo text and image block

In conducting their experiment, they grew three groups of Fragaria x ananassa Duch strawberries under controlled conditions. They applied BOS and DIF to two groups when the berries were still green. Post-treatment, berries were reported to be in similar sizes and color with those grown without pesticide. But, there were a number of chemical changes under the surface that were caused by both fungicides.

Changes were:

  • Reduced levels of soluble sugar and nutrients (sucrose and vitamin C)

  • Reduced sweetness as the sugars were converted into acids

  •  Subdued taste and aroma due to the changed amount of volatile compounds    

 Furthermore, BOS exhibited a direct impact on the regulation of genes included in cellular pathways responsible for producing sugars, volatile compounds, nutrients and amino acids.

During the blind tastes, test subjects showed greater preference towards the untreated strawberries. The findings imply the provision of further pesticide guidance for farmers. 

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