Physiological Attributes Related to Quality Attributes and Storage Life of Minimally Processed Lettuce

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  • 1 Department of Vegetable Crops, Mann Laboratory, University of California, Davis, CA 95616

Relationships between storage quality attributes, such as russet spotting and browning intensity, and physiological attributes, such as soluble phenolic content and polyphenol oxidase (PPO) and phenylalanine ammonia-lyase (PAL) activities, of minimally processed crisphead lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) were studied. The processed lettuce tissue was kept in air or air plus ethylene at 2 or 5 μl·liter-1 at 2.5 or 5C for 1 to 4 days and then transferred to air at 2.5, 5, or 20C for 1 to several days. None of the above physiological attributes of the initial samples from eight lettuce cultivars (Calmar, El Toro, Sea Green, Pacific, Monterey, Salinas 88, 86-13, and Nerone) and three maturity stages (immature, mature, and overmature) correlated with their storage quality. However, ethylene-induced PPO and PAL activities and browning intensity measured 3 to 4 days after harvest consistently and significantly correlated with the final visual quality of the ethylene-treated, minimally processed lettuce after 6 to 10 days of storage. Among these three attributes, ethylene induced a 2.5- to 5.3-fold increase in PAL activity, while the relative changes in PPO activity and browning intensity were only 23% to 68%. Ethylene-induced PAL activity possibly may be used as an index to predict the storage life of minimally processed lettuce.

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