Gerbera plant is from Asteraceae family and can be grown as a cut flower, pot flower, or garden plant (Reinten et al., 2011). This cut flower ranks fourth after roses, chrysanthemum, and lily in the FloraHolland auction in 2014 (Azadi et al., 2016). Postharvest quality is one of the most important characteristics that determines consumer preference and satisfaction and is a key factor in the commercial value of cut flower (Scariot et al., 2014). In addition, the longevity of cut flowers is crucial to persuade the consumer to repurchase them (Reid and Jiang, 2012). Therefore, one of the main problems in gerbera export and marketing is postharvest losses, and short postharvest life attribute to the water relation disruptions resulting from an increase in microbial population in preservative solution and ethylene action.
Synthetic chemicals are extensively used in floriculture industry to improve yield and quality of cut flowers. Several treatments have been applied to extend gerbera postharvest life. Silver nitrate, thiosulfate, or nanoparticles (AgNPs) in preservative solutions could extend postharvest life of cut flowers (Bahrehmand et al., 2014; Geshnizjany et al., 2014; Liu et al., 2009; Solgi et al., 2009). In the past decades, awareness increased among people regarding side effects of chemicals used in agriculture, and some researches have been conducted to find alternative treatments or materials to preserve product quality or to increase storage life.
Therefore, recently most researchers and producers tend to use environmental and health-friendly materials, such as EOs, which are organic natural substances extracted from different parts of medicinal plants to improve postharvest life of cut or pot flowers (Tabassum and Vidyasagar, 2013). EOs have strong antimicrobial characteristics against some pathogens that ascribe to high levels of phenolic compounds, such as carvacrol, thymol, and eugenol (Perricone et al., 2015). It has been reported that EOs could extend the vase life of gerbera (Solgi et al., 2009) and alstroemeria (Fazlalizadeh et al., 2013; Madadzadeh et al., 2013).
Ethylene concentration in ambient atmosphere affects the vase life of cut flowers (Jalili Marandi et al., 2011). Many flowers perish rapidly in response to ethylene; thus, it is important to avoid pollution with ethylene via removing ethylene from storage rooms by ventilation or by treating the flowers with ethylene action inhibitors. During the past two decades, ethylene biosynthesis inhibitor 1-MCP as a nontoxic to humans has been demonstrated to extend the storage life of a range of cut flowers (Scariot et al., 2014). Hassanpour Asil et al. (2013) reported that the application of 1-MCP extends the vase life of cut spray carnation ‘Optima’ flowers by retarding fresh weight (FW) loss, ethylene production, and chlorophyll and anthocyanin degradation. Celikel et al. (2002) also showed that pretreatment of ‘Monalisa’ and ‘Stargazer’ lilies with 1-MCP completely inhibited the ethylene response, but did not prevent normal senescence, wilting, and abscission of open flowers.
To the best of our knowledge, the combination effect of 1-MCP with antimicrobial agents on postharvest life quality of gerbera has not been studied. Considering the role of 1-MCP (as an ethylene inhibitor),ajowan EO, and AgNPs (as antimicrobial agents), the purpose of the current study was to investigate the possible effects of 1-MCP, ajowan EO, and AgNPs and their combination on improving the postharvest life of gerbera cut flowers cv. Pink Power.
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