Hexanal Vapor Is a Natural, Metabolizable Fungicide: Inhibition of Fungal Activity and Enhancement of Aroma Biosynthesis in Apple Slices

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 Horticulture Department, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824

Hexanal vapor inhibited hyphae growth of Penicillium expansum and Botrytis cinerea on potato dextrose agar (PDA) and on apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) slices. After 48 hours exposure to 4.1 μmol·L-1 (100 ppm) hexanal, the hyphae growth of both fungi was about 50% that of untreated controls. At a concentration of 10.3 μmol·L-1 (250 ppm), neither fungus grew during the treatment period, however, some growth of both fungi occurred 120 hours after treatment. At concentrations of hexanal vapor of 18.6 μmol·L-1 (450 ppm) or more, the growth of both fungi ceased and the organisms were apparently killed, neither showing regrowth when moved to air. When fungi were allowed to germinate and grow for 48 hours in hexanal-free air, a subsequent 48-hour exposure to 10.3 μmol·L-1 hexanal slowed colony growth relative to controls for several days and a 48-hour exposure to 18.6 μmol·L-1 stopped growth completely. Concentrations of hexanal that inhibited fungal growth on PDA also retarded decay lesion development on `Golden Delicious' and on `Jonagold' apple slices. Hexanal was actively converted to aroma volatiles in `Jonagold' and `Golden Delicious' apple slices, with hexanol and hexylacetate production strongly enhanced after 20 to 30 hours treatment. A small amount of butylhexanoate and hexylhexanoate production was also noted. Within 16 hours after treatment, no hexanal could be detected emanating from treated fruit. Since hexanal was metabolized to aroma-related volatiles by the fruit slices, the possibility of hexanal being an essentially residue-less antifungal agent seems likely. The possibility of developing a system for treating apple slices with hexanal in modified-atmosphere packages was also examined. The permeability of low-density polyethylene (LDPE) film to hexanal and hexylacetate was, respectively, about 500- and 1000-fold higher than LDPE permeability to O2. The permeability of both compounds increased exponentially with temperature, with hexanal permeability increased 6-fold while hexylacetate increased only 2.5-fold between 0 and 30 °C.

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