University of Florida scientists studying the miracle fruit have “unlocked the mystery” in research for the plant’s viability as new crop for area growers.
Scientists with UF’s Tropical Research and Education Center have been studying Synsepalum dulcificum, known as miracle fruit, since 2018 to study the unique plant’s viability as a new alternative crop for south Florida growers, according to a UF/IFAS blog post. The study, which ended in December of 2019, was recently published. See the details below.
Miracle Fruit Details
Miracle fruit is a berry that grows as a perennial in Africa. Its pulp contains a protein called miraculin that is known as a taste-modifier, which has the ability to change the perception of foods to sweet. Researchers are interested in the berry’s use as a non-caloric sweetener for foods and beverages.
Researchers were looking to find out which varieties of the plant produce berries with the highest miraculin potencies. “The berry, similar in size to a raspberry, is primarily valued for its miraculin content, but what this study did for the first time, is quantify the miraculin in the fruit of select varieties,” Alan Chambers, the lead researcher, author of the study and a tropical plant geneticist at the UF/IFAS Homestead research facility, said in the blog. “We now have foundational data on yield and of the concentration of the miraculin protein in the berry,” he added.
The research was conducted on a privately-owned, commercial farm in Homestead already growing the plant, Miracle Fruit Farm. “We were able to find the winners and the losers,” Chambers said in the blog. “If you are just planting seedling stocks, you can potentially have some varieties that have no function. All these things can make a grower more successful by making the farm more efficient. It is a huge advantage in the competitive market.”
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Photo courtesy of MiracleFruitFarm under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en