Sunshine fields can be seen once again as the Research Office showcases more than 30 different varieties of sunflower. The flowers are of different color patterns and sizes, that make them very attractive. They started to bloom on the 3rd week of January and are expected to last until the 3rd week of February, in time for the CLSU Alumni Homecoming and the Graduation activities.
To recall, the Research Office has been planting sunflower as part of its R&D program since the late 1970’s under the leadership of Dr. Filomena F. Campos, then Director of the Research and Development Center (R&DC). CLSun, a sunflower variety, was developed by the R&DC. However, research on sunflower was not continued during the following decades due to changes in the priority commodities and lack of budget. Nonetheless, due to the potential of sunflower, research activities started again in 2019 in the Research Office under the program entitled “Plant Genetic Resources Conservation and Characterization” with the leadership of Mr. John Dave C. Aquino. The program focuses on three crops such as sunflower. special purpose rice and soybean. On sunflower, it highlights its other potential aside from its ornamental use.
A number of studies on sunflower are being conducted. One, research on sunflower as potential source of oil for human consumption. This research will analyze the fatty acid composition of oil extracted from several varieties of sunflower. Two, on the flowers’ potential, and extending shelf life as ornamental and a study which focuses on nectar characterization and gene expression analysis. A paper on sucrose hydrolyzing gene conducted as an undergraduate thesis of Ms. Xyrelle P. Juan, and a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Agriculture major in Crop Science from the College of Agriculture was presented during the National Student Research Congress, December 16-17, 2019, Pasay City, Metro Manila. This was awarded as Best Abstract. Her attendance to this Congress and that of Mr. John Dave Aquino and other student-researchers was made possible with financial support from the University Agribusiness Program (UBAP).
“We aim to characterize the high value traits of sunflower not only for ornamental purposes but also to elucidate its further potentials for the beekeeping and oil industry”, says Mr. John Dave Aquino, program leader of the sunflower research.
“CLSU will continue to spearhead the R&D on sunflower, hopefully to develop essential oils and sunflower ornamentals” says Dr. Maria Excelsis M. Orden, the Director of the Research Office, “With high-tech equipment, and hardworking and passionate researchers like John Dave, Erick Allain Flores, Paula Blanca Gaban, and Jasper Neil Mandac, and support from the VPRET Dr. Fe L. Porciuncula and the CLSU President, Dr. Edgar A. Orden, we are confident we will be able to achieve these targets”.