UF/IFAS Researchers Creating an ‘Artificial Intelligence Connoisseur’ (UF/IFAS)

UF/IFAS Researchers Creating an ‘Artificial Intelligence Connoisseur’

Can a computer “taste” a tomato or a blueberry? Well, not exactly, but it can tell scientists which volatiles in these fruits make them taste good, say University of Florida researchers.

UF/IFAS breeder and geneticist Marcio Resende wants to create what he calls an “Artificial Intelligence Connoisseur,” a model that tells researchers which chemical compounds — that is to say, volatiles, sugars, acids, and other chemical compounds — produce the best fruit flavors.

Dr. Marcio Resende, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of horticultural sciences, in his greenhouse on the main UF campus in Gainesville. In a new study, Resende and other UF/IFAS scientists used artificial intelligence to gather smell and taste data on tomatoes and blueberries.

To find out if a fruit or vegetable is worth breeding, scientists sample the crop for taste and smell themselves, going through fields and picking produce individually.

These processes can present logistical issues, said Harry Klee, a UF/IFAS horticultural sciences professor and a co-author of a new study that looks at how computer models can use volatiles to measure fruit taste.

“Due to cost and logistical limitations, breeders do not typically employ consumer panels in their programs,” Klee said. “The ideal would be to use a large consumer panel that includes a diverse set of potential consumers. We use 100 people, spanning a range of age and ethnicity. This approach is much more representative of the population of shoppers.”

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