Postharvest Pathogens and Disease Management. 2005. P. Narayanasamy. John Wiley, Somerset, NJ. 578 pages. $135.00. Hardcover. ISBN: 978-0-471-74303-3
Postharvest diseases are responsible for the spoilage of durable and fresh perishable commodities worldwide, particularly in developing countries or among products transported long distances or held in storage. In this book, Narayanasamy reports that postharvest losses for durable commodities are about 10% worldwide and that losses of fresh commodities are about 5% in developed countries and may average 25% in underdeveloped countries. He extensively reviews the biology, detection, and management of these diseases among seeds, plant materials for propagation, fruits, and vegetables. Related subjects, such as mycotoxins and food-borne human pathogens, are also discussed at some length. Few texts on postharvest diseases have been published; in recent times, the sole example is Riva Barkai-Golan's Postharvest Diseases of Fruits and Vegetables, published in 2001 and an excellent, comprehensive treatise on postharvest pathology, although it is limited to fruits and vegetables.
Nearly 600 pages in length, the majority of subjects are reviewed thoroughly, and most statements of fact appear with copious supporting references gleaned from authors worldwide (about 2000 sources are referenced). When I examined chapters on subjects in which I thought I was well-versed, inevitably I found new and useful information. Early chapters in the book address pathogen detection and identification, pathogen ecology, disease development, and symptom expression. Middle chapters address the influence of cultural practices, handling, and storage environments on postharvest disease incidence. Later chapters discuss practical and experimental methods of disease management, including physical treatments, host resistance incorporated by conventional breeding or molecular means, biological control, and chemical control by conventional fungicides and alternatives to them, including natural products. The last chapter describes examples of integrated systems employed to minimize postharvest diseases. The index is comprehensive and useful. The book contains a modest number of black and white illustrations, figures, and tables, and would have benefited by more of them and some color images.
A particularly useful feature of this book for researchers is the inclusion, at the end of many chapters, of appendices where specific methods are described and that are appropriate for the subject of that chapter. Methods described include classical ones, such as inoculation, pathogen culture media, microscopy, and disease evaluation tests, as well as molecular and biochemical techniques, such as enzyme activity assays, antibody production, ELISA, PCR, PAGE, and many more. Narayanasamy has done a great service by authoring this book. It is a valuable reference for researchers, advanced students, or educators in this discipline. Its price is fair and relatively low.