Detection of Mechanical Injury and Physiological Breakdown of Cucumbers Using Delayed Light Emission

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 Instrumentation and Sensing Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Beltsville, MD 20705
  • | 2 Department of Horticulture, Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, The Ohio State University, Wooster, OH 44691
  • | 3 Soybean and Alfalfa Research Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Beltsville, MD 20705

Mechanical stress received by pickling cucumbers (Cucumis sativus L.) during harvest can cause physiological degeneration of the placental tissues, rendering the cucumbers unsuitable for use in some pickled products. Cucumbers were subjected to controlled stresses by dropping and rolling under weights to induce such degeneration. Following storage at various temperatures for O, 24, and 48 hours, refreshed delayed light emission from chlorophyll (RDLE) was measured and transmission electron micrographs of chloroplasts were made. Mechanical stress rapidly suppressed RDLE and induced accumulation of starch granules within the chloroplasts. Rolling usually had a greater effect on RDLE than did dropping. After 48 hours, RDLE suppression persisted; starch granules were no longer evident in chloroplasts from mechanically stressed fruit, but very electron-dense inclusions had developed in the chloroplasts. Storage temperatures affected RDLE levels but had minimal interaction with stress responses. Cucumber lots subjected to excessive mechanical stress likely could be detected using RDLE measurement.

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