Bright orange-yellow powder scattered on a white surface

USDA funds Basu Lab in project to develop turmeric as a cash crop

CSUN plant biologist Chhandak Basu and colleagues at Alabama A&M University have received funding to continue a project developing turmeric as a cash crop for the Deep South.

Turmeric, Cucurma longa, is a close relative of ginger, and its underground stems are the source of the fragrant, bright yellow spice used widely in south Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine. Turmeric is in increasing demand for its potential medicinal properties as well, and development of domestic turmeric strains that produce particularly high concentrations of its unique biochemical compounds could help to make it a reliable, high value crop for cultivation in climates like Alabama’s.

The newly funded project, which provides $95,000 to the Basu Lab, will continue work to examine how different lines of Cucurma longa vary in their production of cucurmin, one key compound produced by the plant. Understanding the natural variation in this trait is the first step towards breeding high-value lines for commercial cultivation.

Image: Turmeric powder (Flickr: Steven Jackson)

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