Techniques that slow ripening of apple are valuable tools that can maintain fruit quality during cold storage. Aminoethoxyvinylglycine (AVG) inhibits the pyridoxal phosphate-linked enzyme aminocyclopropane synthase (ACS) activity (Capitani et al., 2002) essential in the ethylene biosynthetic pathway (Yang and Hoffman, 1984) and is commercially used to stop fruit drop as a preharvest application (Greene, 2005, 2006; Greene and Schupp, 2004; Stover et al., 2003). In addition to inhibiting fruit drop and ethylene production, AVG was found to delay apple fruit ripening, maintain fruit firmness, and inhibit aroma volatile production after harvest and cold storage (Autio and Bramlage, 1982; Bramlage et al., 1980; Drake et al., 2005; Halder-Doll and Bangerth, 1987; Mir et al., 1999; Stover et al., 2003).
Heat treatment after harvest has shown potential for inhibiting ripening and extending cold storage life. In climacteric fruit, heat might act through its effect on enzymes involved in the synthesis of ethylene (Atta-Aly, 1992; Klein, 1989; Yu et al., 1980). Although heat treatment itself inhibits ripening, after the treatment, ethylene production may recover to equal or higher levels than those of control fruit (Klein, 1989; Klein and Lurie, 1990). Heat treatments have decreased firmness loss and maintained a higher soluble solids:titratable acidity ratio in apples after regular cold storage (Klein and Lurie, 1992; Lurie and Klein, 1992; Porrit and Lidster, 1978; Saftner et al., 2002, 2003), a change sensed by taste panels who indicated that heated apples were crisper and sweeter than unheated ones after cold storage (Lurie and Nussinovitch, 1996). Fallik et al. (1997) found that volatile production was first inhibited but eventually recovered to even higher levels than nonheated fruit after 6 weeks of cold storage. However, the response to heat treatment may be cultivar-specific (Shao et al., 2007).
Although there are numerous reports about the effects of heat or AVG alone on apple ripening, nothing has been reported about their combined effect after cold storage. Based on apple response to each treatment alone, the increase in ethylene production often observed after heat treatment and subsequent removal from cold storage may be suppressed by the persisting effect of AVG and thus modify apple ripening. The objective of this study was to determine if AVG plus heat treatment would additively or synergistically affect fruit ripening of four apple cultivars more than either treatment alone.
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