Biotech Updates

New Mild Onions Offer Great Taste, Long Shelf Life

May 2, 2013

New Cornell line of onions that boast of aroma, mild flavor, and crispy texture has been developed by scientist Professor Martha Mutschler in partnership with executive chef Steve Miller. The new onion varieties have longer shelf life and stay crispy and intact when cooked in soup or chili or when grilled. Initially, Mutschler and colleagues developed onion populations that combined low pungency and higher brix traits (high sugar content). Using conventional breeding some of these lines were developed including a mild line that has red bulbs and can be used to produce red or pink mild onion hybrids.

Other lines were developed with a "double haploid" process using a tissue culture of immature onion flowers that duplicates one set of chromosomes to speed up breeding. The doubled haploid mild onion lines are unique in that they are totally inbred: "The seeds from each double haploid plant will produce identical plants" that are extremely uniform for any traits, said Elizabeth Earle, Professor of plant breeding and genetics.

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