Plums (Prunus domestica L.) are a good source of antioxidants, anthocyanin, phenolic compounds, nutritional elements, and some vitamins (Cevallos-Casals et al., 2006) that may benefit human health (Gil et al., 2002; Wargovich, 2000), but plums have a short postharvest life. Plums are highly perishable and their quality deteriorates rapidly after harvest, with the fruit not often reaching consumers at its optimal quality stage after extensive transport and marketing (Abdi et al., 1997; Crisosto et al., 2004; Eum et al., 2009; Hussain et al., 2015).
Enzymes, essential biocatalysts in the physiology and metabolism of plants, remain active postharvest, which may be desirable or undesirable in some cases and may lead to changes in quality attributes such as texture and nutritional value (Terefe et al., 2014). One of these enzymes is PG, a cell wall-bound enzyme that causes the cleavage of bonds between two galacturonic acid residues in pectin, resulting in pectin depolymerization, which leads to degradation of textural quality and softening, and thus has great importance in postharvest senescence (Terefe et al., 2014). PPO, another postharvest active enzyme, causes loss of nutritional value by acting on phenols (phenol oxidation) (Terefe et al., 2014) as well as vitamin C, flavonoids (Zhou et al., 2008), and anthocyanin degradations (Jiang et al., 2005). On the other hand, PODs control the level of peroxides generated in oxygenation reactions to avoid excessive formation of radicals harmful to all living organisms (Terefe et al., 2014).
Of late, providing safer methods for fruit maintenance with no side effects on human and animal health, and no negative effects on the environment is a high priority (Panahirad et al., 2014). Innocuous strategies including edible films and coatings could improve fruit shelf-life (Bourtoom, 2008; Mu et al., 2012). There is growing interest in the use of coatings based on different natural-origin compounds such as lipids, proteins, and polysaccharides (Bourtoom, 2008; Dhall, 2013; Shit and Shah, 2014; Tanada-Palmu and Grosso, 2005; Zahedi et al., 2010). Nowadays, edible coatings are applied successfully as multipurpose materials in postharvest-related areas for improving appearance, reducing water loss and respiration, delaying ripening, increasing firmness, and so on (Bifani et al., 2007; Zhou et al., 2008).
CMC, a derivative of cellulose, is an anionic linear and long-chain compound with a high molecular weight (Bifani et al., 2007; Tongdeesoontorn et al., 2011). Natural coatings based on CMC are generally nontoxic, nonallergenic, biodegradable, odorless, and tasteless. These flexible and transparent biocoatings are resistant to oils and fats. However, they are water soluble and are moderately permeable to moisture, oxygen, and carbon dioxide (Bourtoom, 2008; Dhall, 2013; Jafarizadeh-Malmiri et al., 2011; Nie et al., 2004). Interestingly, CMC coatings act as antisenescence and antifungal ingredients and delay ripening (Hussain et al., 2016), which preserves original fruit firmness (Vyas et al., 2014). The coatings are also applied to harvested fruit as a barrier against gas exchange between fruit and the environment, and thus are used successfully for adjusting oxygen and water transfer (Shit and Shah, 2014). In short, CMC is a good choice for maintaining fruit quality and extending shelf-life (Hussain et al., 2010, 2016) because it is commercially available and inexpensive (Hussain et al., 2010; Lim et al., 2011). CMC-based edible coatings have been used on fruit such as apples, mandarins, fresh-cut mangos, pears, sweet cherries, and papayas (Arnon et al., 2015; Hussain et al., 2010; Lim et al., 2011; Moldão-Martins et al., 2003; Plotto et al., 2004; Togrul and Arslan, 2004; Vyas et al., 2014); and in combination with irradiation in plums (Hussain et al., 2015), peaches (Hussain et al., 2016), and fresh-cut mangos (Salinas-Roca et al., 2018).
This research reports, for the first time, how the application of a CMC-based edible coating could improve qualitative and biochemical (especially enzymatic) properties of plum shelf-life.
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