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  • Author or Editor: Jennifer R. DeEll x
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Chlorophyll fluorescence responds to a range of environmental stresses that affect horticultural crops. This technique has been used successfully to evaluate the quality of commodities after exposure to a number of postharvest stresses such as chilling, heat, and atmospheric stress. As well, chlorophyll fluorescence measurements have been incorporated as the main characteristics in shelf-life prediction models. Our objective was to evaluate the use of chlorophyll fluorescence measurements at harvest to predict the shelf-life of `Iceberg' lettuce. It was hypothesized that storage potential is influenced by the degree of stress induced by field conditions and that different cultivars, although grown under the same conditions, experience varying degrees of stress that can be detected by fluorescence measurements at harvest, even in the absence of visual differences in quality. The utility of fluorescence measurements was limited by inconsistencies in the development of the heads, such as maturity and leaf formation, and by variation among different areas of the same leaf. Fluorescence data from a homogeneous group of heads revealed that the variation associated with different areas of the same leaf was larger than that associated with measurements from different heads. Also, fluorescence readings from one leaf differed from those taken from any non-adjacent leaves. These sources of variation, along with strong cultivar-dependant differences in the fluorescence signal, were quite large, and hence, any trends in fluorescence measurements related to storage potential were not observed. Therefore, chlorophyll fluorescence at harvest does not appear to be a good predictor of lettuce storability.

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`Cortland' is an apple cultivar with inherent poor storeability because of excessive vulnerability to the development of superficial scald in long-term storage. The objectives of this investigation were to evaluate the potential of the potent ethylene action inhibitor 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP; EthylBloc®) to counteract this constraint and to develop some basic procedures for its exposure. Eight hours after harvest, fruit were exposed to 1.0 mL·L–1 1-MCP for 0, 3, 6, 9, 12, 16, 24, or 48 h at 3, 13, or 23 °C. Following exposure, fruit were placed at 0 to 1 °C in air for 120 days, after which time they were removed to 20 °C and held 7 days for post-storage assessment of ripening and to allow development of physiological disorders. In general, and within our experimental limits, the higher the temperature of 1-MCP exposure the shorter the required exposure time to obtain similar effects. The desired effectiveness of 1-MCP could be achieved by exposing fruit for at least 3 h at 23 °C, for 6 h at 13 °C, or for 9 h at 3 °C. 1-MCP-treated apples were consistently 2 kg firmer than untreated apples. Scald incidence in untreated fruit after 120 days at 0 to 1 °C and 7 days at 20 °C was 100%, whereas 1-MCP reduced scald by 95% in treatments of long enough duration at any particular temperature.

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Sequential decreases or increases in the levels of O2 in controlled atmosphere (CA) were investigated as techniques to improve fruit quality of `McIntosh' apples (Malus ×sylvestris [L.] Mill. var. domestica [Borkh.] Mansf.), a cultivar that tends to soften rapidly in storage. Precooled fruit that were harvested at optimum maturity for long-term storage were placed immediately in different programmed CA regimes. In the first year, CA programs consisted of 1) `standard' CA (SCA; 2.5–3.0% O2 + 2.5% CO2 for the first 30 d, 4.5% CO2 thereafter) at 3 °C for 180 d; 2) low CO2 SCA (2.5–3.0% O2 + 2.5% CO2) at 3 °C for 60 d, transferred to low O2 (LO; 1.5% O2 + 1.5% CO2) at 0 or 3 °C for 60 d, and then to ultralow O2 (ULO; 0.7% O2 + 1.0% CO2) at 0 or 3 °C for 60 d; and 3) ULO at 3 °C for 60 d, transferred to LO at 0 or 3 °C for 60 d, and then to SCA or low CO2 SCA at 0 or 3 °C for 60 d. In the second year, the regimes sequentially decreasing in O2 were compared with continuous ULO and SCA. After removal from storage, apples were held in ambient air at 20 °C for a 1-week ripening period. Fruit firmness was evaluated after 1 and 7 d at 20 °C, whereas the incidence of physiological disorders was assessed only after 7 d. Lowering the temperature while decreasing O2 was the best CA program with significant increased firmness retention during storage and after the 1-week ripening period. Reduced incidence of low O2 injury in decreasing O2 programs and absence of core browning at the lower temperature were also observed.

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In a 2-year study, `McIntosh' apples were stored in a CA regime of 4.5% CO2 + 2.5% O2. Within the CA cabinets there were three humidity levels: >75% RH (CaCl2 salt in the chamber), >90% RH (ambient), or >95% RH (distilled water in the chamber). After removal at 4 and 8 months, the fruit were warmed to handling temperatures of 0C, 10C, or 20C and subjected to three levels of impact bruising of 0, 10, or 20 lb with a Ballauf pressure tester with a 1.5 × 1.5-cm tip. The results showed that low-humidity CA storage decreased visible bruising. Although visible shrivel was not observed, the low-humidity treatment may increase the possibility of its occurrence. Respiration, measured as O2 consumption or CO2 production immediately after removal from CA storage, was lowest in low humidity (>75% RH) and highest in ambient humidity (>90% RH) CA storage. The humidity treatments did not affect firmness, soluble solids, titratable acids, or ethylene production. Increasing the temperature during post-storage handling decreased the amount of visible bruising without affecting other variates such as firmness, soluble solids, titratable acids, respiration, or ethylene production.

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Chlorophyll fluorescence was evaluated as a rapid and nondestructive technique to detect low-O2 or high-CO2 stress in apples (Malus domestica Borkh.) during storage. `Marshall' McIntosh apples were held for 5, 10, 15, 20, or 25 days at 3C in 1) standard O2 (2.5% to 3%) and low CO2 (<1%), 2) low O2 (1% to 1.5%) and low CO2 (<1%), 3) standard O2 (2.5% to 3%) and standard CO2 (4% to 4.5%), or 4) standard O2 (2.5% to 3%) and high CO2 (11% to 12%). Only 10% of the apples had skin discoloration after 5 days in 1% to 1.5% O2; 80% developed skin discoloration after 20 days in low O2. Small desiccated cavities in the cortex, associated with CO2 injury, developed in 10% of the apples after 20 days in 11% to 12% CO2. Five days in 1% to 1.5% O2 or 11% to 12% CO2 caused variable fluorescence (Fv) of apple fruit to decrease compared to those held in standard atmospheres. Additional exposure did not significantly affect Fv in either the low-O2 (1% to 1.5%) or high-CO2 (11% to 12%) treatment. Our results suggest that chlorophyll fluorescence techniques can detect low-O2 and high-CO2 stress in apples before the development of associated disorders.

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Glutathione S-transferase (GST) is a ubiquitous and constitutive enzyme that is involved in numerous cellular activities including the amelioration of oxidative stresses caused by the presence of xenobiotics and reactive oxygen species. In the present study, a glutathione S-transferase was extracted, purified, and partially characterized from two types of pome fruits. Pear (Pyrus × communis L., cultivar D'Anjou) and apple (Malus × domestica Borkh., cultivar Delicious) fruit were tested. The glutathione S-transferase was extracted using traditional methods, and purified using a combination of ammonium sulfate precipitation, dialysis, and GST-specific affinity chromatography. The GST enzyme was subsequently eluted from the column and concentrated prior to characterization studies. A purified fraction from the column was loaded onto an SDS-PAGE gel, and resulted in a single band with an apparent molecular weight of ≈26 kDa. This band was excised and used for MALDI-TOF/MS peptide mass fingerprint studies, and also served to confirm the apparent mass of the protein (25969 Da). The ExPASy software was used for the peptide mass fingerprint study, where the digest of the GST using trypsin was compared to a theoretical digest of an Arabidopsis GST, and resulted in two peptides of significant mass homology. The purified GST was also tested for enzyme activity using the standard assay substrate of 1-chloro-2,4-dinitrobenzene and reduced glutathione. Total GST protein extracted from `D'Anjou' pear was 0.532 mg·mL-1, while `Delicious' apple contained 0.127 mg·mL-1. The activity of GST enzymes may play a role in minimizing oxidative stress injury in stored pear and apple tissues.

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Chlorophyll fluorescence (CF) was evaluated as a technique to assess chilling injury of rose (Rosa sp.) leaves exposed to low temperatures. In the more susceptible genotypes, variable fluorescence (Fv) decreased dramatically as the temperature was lowered. In the less susceptible genotypes, Fv was more stable and decreased more slowly as temperature fell. Our results suggest that measurement of CF may provide a rapid method to prescreen genotypes for chilling susceptibility, as required in plant breeding.

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The relationship of soft scald incidence (SSI) with precipitation, temperature, and fruit maturity indicators in ‘Honeycrisp’ apples was examined using 7 years of data in Maine and 6 years in Ontario, Canada. Relative humidity was also examined in Maine. Soft scald incidence was highly variable from year to year ranging from 1% to 85% in Maine and from 0% to 76% in Ontario. In Ontario, SSI was negatively related to soluble solids at harvest (partial r 2 = 0.50; P = 0.0041) and negatively related to precipitation during 90 to 120 days from bloom (DFB; partial r 2 = 0.28; P = 0.0344). In Maine, SSI was most strongly related to precipitation in the 90 to 120 DFB (partial r 2 = 0.53; P = 0.0001), maximum air temperature 60 to 90 DFB (partial r 2 = 0.21; P = 0.0001), and number of hours when relative humidity was greater than 85% (partial r 2 = 0.11; P = 0.0001).

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Preconditioning, holding fruit at 10, 17.5, or 21 °C temperatures for up to 7 days before placement in cold storage, was inconsistent in its effect on soft scald and soggy breakdown in ‘Honeycrisp’ apples in Maine and Ontario. In Ontario, 4 days of preconditioning at 21 °C increased soft scald in 1 year but had no effect in the next year. Five d of preconditioning at 10 °C reduced soft scald and had no effect on soggy breakdown in 1 year but reduced it the next year. In Maine, 5 days preconditioning at 17.5 °C was effective in reducing soft scald and/or soggy breakdown in 2002 to 2007 when starch index at harvest was 5.9 to 7.2. Seven days of preconditioning at 17.5 °C increased soggy breakdown with an early harvest in two orchards but only in one of two orchards with a later harvest. This same preconditioning had no effect on soft scald with the first harvest but reduced it with the second. In the next year, the same preconditioning treatment increased soft scald and soggy breakdown with an early maturity but had no effect with a later maturity in one orchard but not in fruit from another. Conditions during preconditioning and subsequent cold storage temperatures varied from previous recommendations, and this may be why preconditioning was not consistent in our studies and in some cases increased chilling disorders.

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A final harvest window (FHW), expressed as Streif Index coefficients [firmness/(percentage soluble solids concentration × starch index)], was developed for identifying maximum fruit quality for strains of `McIntosh', `Cortland', and `Jonagold' apples (Malus ×domestica Borkh.) following 8 months of controlled-atmosphere (CA) storage. The Streif Index was calculated during nine preharvest (twice per week) intervals and four weekly harvests over three seasons. The relationship between Streif Index (dependent variable) and day of year (independent variable) of the preharvest and harvest samples was then derived by negative first-order linear regression equations that had parameter estimate (b1) probability values ≤0.0001 for all of the strains. Apples from the four harvest periods were stored in standard CA storage for 8 months and then subjected to a 7-day shelf-life test at 0 °C followed by 5 days at 20 °C. Poststorage quality data were categorized and combined to produce an overall fruit quality rating scale. For each strain, the final harvest (i.e., day of year) was identified as that which directly preceded at least a 10% drop in the poststorage fruit quality rating compared with the first harvest rating. The FHW, expressed as Streif Index coefficients via the regression of Streif Index (Y) on day of year (X), was then calculated as the 3-year final harvest mean with the upper and lower window limits being determined by the standard deviation of the mean. The lower to upper FHW boundaries ranged from 4.18 to 5.34, 4.12 to 5.46, 4.51 to 5.68, 5.23 to 5.99, and 1.38 to 2.34 for Redmax, Marshall and Summerland `McIntosh', Redcort `Cortland' and Wilmuta `Jonagold', respectively. The practical utility of the Streif Index method lies in the ease with which apple fruit maturity at harvest can be evaluated for its suitability for long-term CA storage.

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