Researchers are working to develop red seedless table grape with enhanced health properties

Researchers from the Murcia Institute for Agricultural and Environmental Research and Development (IMIDA) and the Polytechnic University of Cartagena (UPCT) in Spain have joined forces to develop a seedless table grape variety with a red pulp and high levels of antioxidants.

Itumfifteen A

Researchers are working on a cross of Itumfifteen (pictured) and Alicante Bouschet

They hope to combine the healthy bioactive compounds found wine grape variety Alicante Bouschet with the organoleptic qualities of Itumfifteen, the red seedless variety developed by Spain’s ITUM breeding programme, to create a new cultivar with enhanced health characteristics.

IMIDA researcher Pablo Crespo, who is part of the Advanced Techniques for Research and Agricultural and Food Development (TAIDA) programme at UPCT, is analysing hundreds of hybrids of both varieties being grown on a trial farm in Murcia.

“After three years of work we have obtained very positive preliminary results, such as the red pulp inheritability in the majority of the hybrids and an increase in healthy compounds,” he explains.

One of the bioactive compounds that the team has identified is resveratrol, part of a group of compounds called polyphenols that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can protect against illnesses like cancer and heart disease.

The research forms part of a wider project entitled Genetic improvement of agricultural species of interest to the Region of Murcia.