Three polyamine biosynthesis inhibitors, α-difluoromethylornithine (DFMO), α-difluoromethylarginine (DFMA), and α-methylornithine (MeOrn), alone and in combination with CaCl2, were tested for their ability to reduce in vitro growth and soft rot development in apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) fruit caused by Botrytis cinerea Pers.:Fr. and Penicillium expansum Link. All three inhibitors reduced the in vitro growth of the pathogens. Calcium had no effect on fungal growth in vitro. Pressure infiltration of millimolar concentrations of DFMO or DFMA or 25 g·L-1 CaCl2 solutions into apples reduced subsequent soft rot development by B. cinerea and P. expansum >40%. A combination treatment of Ca and DFMO or DFMA reduced decay >67%. Treatment of apples with MeOrn was less effective at inhibiting decay development. None of the inhibitors affected polyamine levels in apple cortical tissues. Some injury to the fruit surface was observed with Ca treatments. Fruit treated with Ca and any of the inhibitors were less firm than those treated with Ca alone. Specific polyamine biosynthesis inhibitors in combination with Ca may prove useful in reducing postharvest decay in apples.
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