The effectiveness of gamma radiation as an enhancer of anthocyanin and flavonol pigment synthesis in cranberries was determined. Three different maturities of cranberries, based on their degree of coloration, and radiation levels of 150 and 300 krad were employed. The changes in the anthocyanin and flavonol pigments were measured quantitatively at regular intervals during storage. Radiation had a beneficial effect on the pigmentation of full-red cranberries and resulted in a significant increase in the anthocyanin and flavonol pigment contents. Effects on the less colored berries were not as great and in some cases flavonoid synthesis was reduced. The radiation induced changes were strictly quantitative in nature and there were no qualitative changes in the anthocyanins and flavonols. The visual effects of radiation on cranberries were minor softening and a stimulation of pigment production in the endocarp area of the fruit, resulting in internal coloration of the fruit. It was concluded that gamma radiation has an effect on the biosynthesis of the pigments involved and that the maturity stage of the cranberries was the controlling factor in determining the degree of response to radiation treatment. A possible mode of action of radiation on flavonoid synthesis was postulated.
Received for publication June 10, 1971.
Present address: Research Division, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, P.O. Box 6300, Ottawa, K2A 3W3, Ontario. The senior author wishes to express his gratitude to Atomic Energy of Canada Limited whose educational leave policy enabled him to pursue this investigation at the University of Massachusetts. Appreciation is also expressed to Ocean Spray Cranberries, Hanson, Mass, for financial support of this work.