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  • Author or Editor: William S. Conway x
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Heating `Golden Delicious' apples (Malus domestica Borkh.) for 4 days at 38C or pressure-infiltrating them with a 4% CaCl2 solution reduced decay and maintained fruit firmness during 6 months of storage at 0C. Heating reduced decay caused by Penicillium expansum Link ex Thorn by ≈30%, while pressure infiltration with CaCl2 reduced decay by >60%. Pressure infiltration with CaCl2 after heating reduced decay by ≈40%. Pressure infiltration maintained firmness best (>84 N), as measured with a manually driven electronic fruit-firmness probe, followed by heat and CaCl2 (76 N), heat alone (71 N), and no treatment (control) (60 N). Force vs. deformation (FD) curves from a puncture test with a fruit-firmness probe mounted in a universal testing machine showed that fruit heated before storage were firmer than all nonheated fruit, except those pressure-infiltrated with 4% CaCl2. However, FD curves also showed that apples pressure-infiltrated with 4% CaCl2 differed quantitatively from apples in all other treatments, including those heated.

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Prestorage infiltration of `Golden Delicious' apples (Malus domestica Borkh.) with calcium (Ca) retarded texture changes during storage at 0C and inhibited ethylene production of the fruit at 20C. Infiltration of the fruit with the polyamines (PA) putrescine (PUT) or spermidine (SPD) also altered texture changes, but did not inhibit ethylene production. When the fruit were treated with Ca first and then with PA, cell wall-hound Ca concentrations increased 4-fold, but PA levels in the cell wall increased only slightly. When the fruit were treated with PA first and then with Ca, PA levels in the cell wall increased 3-fold, but Ca concentration increased only 2-fold. These results indicate that Ca and PA may he competing for the same binding sites in the cell wall and that the improvement of fruit quality during storage by these cations could involve strengthening of the cell wall.

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A pilot test was conducted over a 3-year period to determine the feasibility of using postharvest pressure infiltration of calcium into apples to maintain and/or improve the quality of fruit under commercial storage conditions. Fruits obtained from three different orchards were treated each year. `Golden Delicious' fruits were treated the first year, while `Delicious' fruits were treated the 2nd and 3rd years. In all treatments and years, there was a significant increase in calcium concentration of apples from all calcium chloride (CaCl2) treatments. In general, calcium concentration of treated fruit varied significantly among the three orchards. Firmness also varied among orchards, and was related to fruit calcium concentration. `Golden Delicious' apples were more susceptible to skin injury caused by CaCl2 treatment than were `Delicious' fruits. There was also an increase in infection as a result of some of the treatments, possibly due to injury caused to lenticels by the pressure applied or as a result of calcium injury.

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Structural changes in the cuticle could be partially responsible for the differences in uptake of infiltrated Ca in apple fruit. We examined the relationship between the surface structure of epicuticular wax of `Golden Delicious' apple and Ca uptake by the fruit. Apples were nontreated or pressure infiltrated with distilled water, or with 0.14 or 0.27 mol·L-1 CaCl2 solutions 2 weeks before optimum harvest time, at optimum harvest, or after 2, 4, or 6 months of storage at 0 °C. Examination of the fruit surface with low-temperature scanning electron microscopy revealed that cracks in the epicuticular wax became wider and deeper as storage duration increased. After 6 months of storage, the cracks extended through the cuticle. Uptake of Ca by the infiltrated fruit was greater after 6 months of storage than after shorter storage intervals. These data indicate that as storage duration increased, epicuticular wax cracks became deeper and Ca uptake by the fruit increased.

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Decay caused by Botrytis cinerea is significantly reduced by increasing the calcium concentration of apple fruit tissue. Electron microscope studies have revealed that cracks in the epicuticular wax may be an important pathway by which calcium penetrates into the fruit and increases the calcium concentration. In fruit inoculated with B. cinerea, the decay induced compositional changes in the cell walls of high-calcium fruit were smaller than those observed in the low calcium treatment. The effect of calcium in reducing decay is associated with maintaining cell wall structure by delaying chemical changes in cell wall composition. B. cinerea produced five polygalacturonase isozymes in vitro but only one in vivo. Among the cations studied-m was the most potent inhibitor of polygalacturonase activity in in vitro studies. Its mode of inhibition appears to involve the alteration of substrate availability for hydrolysis, rather than any direct effect on the active sites of the enzyme.

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`Golden Delicious' apples (Malus domestica Borkh) were pressure-infiltrated at harvest with a 4% CaCl2 solution either without prior heat treatment or following 4 days at 38C. Examination of the apple surfaces from both treatments by low-temperature scanning electron microscopy revealed that heat treatment changed the pattern of epicuticular wax. The epicuticular wax of nonheated fruit exhibited numerous deep surface cracks that formed an interconnected network on the fruit surface. The epicuticular wax of heat-treated fruit did not exhibit a similar network of deep cracks. This apparent obstruction or elimination of deep cracks may limit the CaCl2 solutions from entering the fruit. The heated fruit contained significantly less Ca than the fruit that were pressure-infiltrated with CaCl2 solutions but not heated. These results indicate that cracks on the fruit surface may be an important pathway for the penetration of CaCl2 solutions.

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Increasing the calcium content of apples with postharvest CaCl2, treatment has a beneficial effect on physiological and pathological storage problems. The optimal time after harvest during which the fruit can be successfully treated has not been investisated. This study examined the relationship between calcium uptake and the changes in surface cracking in the epicuticular wax of the fruit after various storage intervals. Apples were pressure infiltrated with 0, 2, or 4% CaCl, solutions at harvest or four or six months after storage at 0 C. Examination of the epicuticular wax with low temperature scanning electron microscopy revealed that as the storage duration increased, the numerous cracks on the fruit surface became deeper and wider, until, after six months storage, the cracking extended through the thickness of the cuticle. Calcium uptake in fruit pressure infiltrated with the CaCl2 solutions after six months storage was greater than fruit treated at previous storage intervals. As storage duration increased, epicuticular wax cracks became deeper and calcium uptake increased.

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`Golden Delicious' apples (Malus domestica Borkh) were dipped in either distilled water, methylene chloride, or one of the following surfactants: Brij 30, Tween 20, Tween 80, Tergitol 15-S-9, and Triton X-100. The fruit then were pressure-infiltrated with a 2% solution of CaCl2. Following 4 months storage at 0 °C, fruit were removed and flesh Ca concentration analyzed. The fruit surface was observed using low-temperature scanning electron microscopy, and fruit were rated for surface injury. Brij 30 altered the epicuticular wax the least and resulted in the smallest increase in flesh Ca concentration and the softest fruit. Triton X-100 altered the epicuticular wax the most and resulted in the highest fruit flesh Ca concentration and firmest of the surfactant-pretreated fruit. Methylene chloride removed some of the epicuticular wax, and fruit pretreated with this solvent had the highest flesh Ca concentration and greatest firmness. However, all of the fruit treated with methylene chloride were severely injured.

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