GojiQual - 2021-2023 pathfinder project

From the impact of agricultural practices and drying methods on the plant matrix to the health of intestinal microbiota and animals - Case study: Goji berry (GojiQual)

The project proposes to explore, in goji berries, the links between the health effects and the complexity of the plant matrix modulated by the production and processing conditions.

Background and challenges

© © INRAE/LHOPITAL Marie-Christine

In the current context of global change, plant production must face multiple environmental and societal challenges which require, among other things, a better understanding of how production contexts with reduced input levels can impact plant matrices and their processing and what the effects on consumer health will be. The GojiQual project proposes to address this problem through an interdisciplinary approach to goji (family Solanaceae, genus Lycium), a species that is well adapted to abiotic constraints and is currently developing in France and Europe, where an industry could soon be created to meet the growing local demand for quality goji. Indeed, most of the gojis consumed in Europe are imported from China and the virtues of goji are controversial because of pesticide residues partly resulting from storage and transport containers. The health effects of goji berries have been partially studied and several studies report a protective effect on carbohydrate homeostasis, which seems to be partly linked to polysaccharides, and is most probably attributable to an effect on the microbiota. The goji berry is also rich in phytomicronutrients such as carotenoids and phenolic compounds. However, the role of this cocktail of phytomicronutrients in the health effects of goji berry remains poorly understood. In particular, interactions between phytomicronutrients and fibre could play a major role in the bioaccessibility and metabolism of phytomicronutrients by the microbiota. Moreover, berries from China are mainly consumed dry, and drying methods probably induce changes in the oxidation state of phytomicronutrients, the physical and chemical structure of polysaccharides as well as phytomicronutrient-polysaccharide interactions. Finally, the ecophysiological determinants of berry qualities remain little explored. For example, although goji is known to be drought resistant, thus allowing it to be planted in Mediterranean areas, the impact of water deficit on yield or quality components has not been documented. More generally, the physiological processes underlying goji's resistance to abiotic stresses remain poorly described and French goji producers lack references for building low-input production systems. In fact, there is no integrated study on the relationship between production conditions - drying methods - health effects of fresh and dried goji berries.


The GojiQual project proposes to study the mechanisms/processes/traits linking variations in structure and composition in polysaccharides and phytomicronutrients of interest (carotenoids and polyphenols) of the berries generated by cultivation practices (environment - practices combinations) and by drying methods to health effects in mice (bioaccessibility of phytomicronutrients, carbohydrate homeostasis, anti-obesogenic and anti-inflammatory effects, impact on microbiota composition and intestinal permeability).

INRAE units involved


Contact - coordination :

Modification date : 12 January 2024 | Publication date : 15 June 2021 | Redactor : CG