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Monday, 18 April 2022 15:25

PhD Precis: Minoo Mohajer

Written by  Staff Reporters
Minoo Mohajer Minoo Mohajer

PhD student Minoo Mohajer won Lincoln University's Three-Minute thesis (3MT) research presentation last year, for her engaging presentation on improving the yield and quality of wine by promoting vine balance. She went on to reach the semi-finals in the Virtual Asia-Pacific 3MT Competition in September. In this PhD Precis, we take three minutes with Minoo.

Why should wine growers seek vine balance?

An appropriate balance between leaf area available for photosynthesis (carbohydrate source) and fruit (carbohydrate sink) is essential for optimal yield, and to reach target sugar concentrations by the end of growing season. The timing of phenology and sugar accumulation can be affected by vine balance, therefore changing the balance of compounds in grapes, influencing grape and wine quality.

And how can they achieve it?

There are some management practices that influence the vine balance such as pruning, canopy and crop manipulation (e.g. leaf, shoot or crop removal) during the growing season. Wine grape growers need to decide when and where application of canopy management principles are required. My research focusses on leaf removal at different times of development, removal of leaves at different positions within the canopy, and how this interacts with the environment.

What led you into the science of wine?

My background in plant science and New Zealand! New Zealand's viticulture and wine industry is highly successful and has International reputation, and my academic background in plant science led me to a new challenge in grapevine research.

How could your studies help improve wine industry outcomes?

Canopy manipulation by leaf removal leads to different outcomes in the time of berry ripeness, yield parameters and berry composition so a better understanding of the effects of different leaf removal practices on grapevine is important for the wine industry.

Tell us about the 3MT

For PhD students who work on a specific subject with a lot of data and detailed information, sometimes it is difficult to explain their research in a short time and in a language appropriate to a non-specialist audience. So 3MT was a challenge for me to find what is exciting about my work and convey it succinctly. I highlighted the outcomes of my research, and the impact it will have.

What did winning mean to you?

Winning is always pleasant and for me, it sent two important messages: The first message was that I am learning and developing my presentation and research communication skills, which is a good sign and the second thing I realised was that there are amazing people all around me! People in our department (Wine, Food and Molecular Science), library staff, and the great supervisory team all supported me a lot.

What support have you had for this work?

This work was funded as part of the Precision Grape Yield Analyser (GYA) science research programme led by Lincoln Agritech Limited with project partners of Lincoln University, University of Canterbury, Plant & Food Research and CSIRO. The programme receives major funding from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) through an Endeavour programme (LVLX1601). The GYA project also acknowledges the financial support provided through the Bragato Research Institute (BRI). The PhD is supervised by Dr Amber Parker, Dr Mike Trought and Professor Don Kulasiri at Lincoln University.

To see Minoo's 3MT go to lincoln.ac.nz/news-and-events/three-minute-thesis-contestants-present-their-research/

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