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D.J. Huber

Tomato fruit transformed with the PG-antisense gene have been shown to exhibit persistent structural competence and extended shelf-life compared with normal, PG-containing lines. In this study, PG-antisense and nontransformed, wild-type fruit were examined for electrolyte efflux trends during ripening and following extended storage at the full-ripe stage. Pericarp disks from PG-antisense fruit showed minimal differences in net electrolyte efflux compared with the normal, wild-type fruit at the mature-green through ripe stages of development. Following extended storage (14 days) of ripe fruit, or in response to storage at chilling (1°C) temperatures, significantly higher (25%–33%) values for proportional electrolyte efflux were observed for wild-type fruit. Additionally, ripe wild-type fruit following extended storage or in response to chilling injury exhibited increased (15%–20%) total soluble electrolytes, particularly in tissues subjected to freeze-thaw versus thermal-disruption. Although PG-antisense fruit do exhibit increases in net electrolyte efflux during ripening, the enhanced efflux and electrolyte generation from wild-type ripe fruit during extended storage was due, in part, to the release of polyelectrolytes originating from pectin hydrolysis. These data may explain the divergence in postharvest performance and structural integrity of PG-antisense and normal, wild-type fruit during post-ripe storage and also suggest that modification of the apoplastic environment resulting from developmental increases in electrolyte efflux can enhance the catalytic activity of PG in vivo.

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N. El-Assi, D.J. Huber, and J.K. Brecht

The irradiation of harvested fruit is typically accompanied by excessive tissue softening, a process that is not well understood. In this study, we examined the role of specific cell wall polymers and the extent of general cell wall degradation and softening in irradiated tomato fruit. `Sunny' tomato fruit at mature-green and pink stages were subjected to X-ray radiation at 0, 83, and 156 Krad. Immediate softening was noted for both maturation classes, although some postirradiation recovery was evident in green fruit. Pectic polymers of both mature-green and pink fruit exhibited depolymerization and altered neutral sugar profiles in response to irradiation. Pectins, either as components of total ethanol-insoluble solids (EIS), purified by selective extraction, or of commercial origin were similarly affected by irradiation. Cellulose preparations were unaffected by irradiation. The data demonstrate that the effect of irradiation on the cell wall exhibits specificity, can occur nonenzymatically, and does not require initiating adducts of cytosolic origin.

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N. El-Assi, D. J. Huber, and J. K. Brecht

The use of irradiation to increase longevity and quality of horticultural commodities often results in undesirable softening. The biochemical basis of irradiation-induced softening is not well understood. In this study, we investigated the role of the pectic polysaccharides in irradiation-induced textural changes of `Sunny' tomato fruit. `Sunny' mature-green and pink fruit subjected to 84 or 240 Krad experienced a dosage-dependent decrease in firmness, an increase in electrolyte leakage, and an increase in chelator-soluble pectins. Additionally, pectins prepared from 240 Krad-irradiated fruit were of markedly lower mol wt compared to those from nonirradiated fruit. Irradiation-induced downshifts in pectin mol wt were also noted for preripe fruit that lack PG activity. Mol wt decreases noted for pectins from 240 Krad-treated fruit exceeded those observed for fully ripe, nonirradiated fruit The role of other cell wall polymers in irradiation-induced textural changes is currently being addressed.

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A.S.A. Rahman, D.J. Huber, and J.K. Brecht

Bell pepper (Capsicum annum var. Jupiter) fruit were exposed to 1.5% O2 for 1 to 5 days at 20C to examine whether the low-O2-induced poststorage respiratory suppression (PRS) in whole fruit could be due to limitations in mitochondrial oxidative capacity. Mitochondrial oxidative capacity was not affected after storing bell peppers for 1 day in 1.5 % O2. Extending the storage period from 1 to 5 days in 1.5 % 0, resulted in PRS of CO2 production for about 55 hours after transfer to air, and a marked reduction in the oxidative capacity of isolated mitochondria. Mitochondrial activity was suppressed for 10 hours after transfer to air but, within 24 hours, bad recovered to values comparable to those of mitochondria from fruit stored continuously in air. Storing bell peppers in 1.5% O2 for 5 days resulted in a reduction in the respiratory control (RC), while ADP/O ratios were not affected. The reduction was temporary since the RC attained normal activity after returning bell peppers to air. Cyanide-sensitive cytochrome and CN-insensitive pathways were suppressed after storing fruit in 1.5 % O2 for 5 days. After returning fruit from a low-O2 atmosphere to air, the alternative pathway recovered at a greater rate than the cytochrome pathway.

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Yong-Soo Hwang, D.J. Huber, and L.G. Albrigo

Cell wall composition and structure were examined in visually normal (N), granulated (G), and collapsed (VC) juice vesicles of `Marsh Seedless' grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) Macf.). According to gel-filtration data, VC appeared to be associated with a modification of water-soluble (WSP) and chelate-soluble (CSP) pectin molecular weight (Mr); small-Mr pectins increased, whereas large-J4. pectins decreased. The difference in M = of pectins did not appear to be mediated by polygalacturonases. Molecular weight of hemicelluloses did not differ. Granulated vesicles contained about two times more structural polysaccharides (pectins, hemicelhdose, and cellulose) than N vesicles, although hemicellulose and pectin M = modification were absent. Ion-exchange profiles of WSP, CSP, and hemicelhrlose fractions of VC and G vesicles were not different from those of N vesicles. Individual cells in vesicles with G and these vesicles themselves were much larger than those of N vesicles, whereas cells in VC were partially or completely collapsed.

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R.J. Bender, J.K. Brecht, D.J. Huber, and S.A. Sargent

Tree-ripe `Tommy Atkins' mangoes were not injured during storage in controlled atmospheres (CA) for 21 days at 8°C, and the fruit resumed ripening after transfer to air at 20°C (Bender et al., 1995). In our study, tree-ripe `Keitt' mangoes were stored at 5 and 8°C in either 10% or 25% CO2 combined with 5% O2 with control fruit maintained in air. Control fruit had higher percentages of electrolyte leakage than CO2-treated fruit at transfer from the CA and after 3 days in air at 20°C. Fruit stored in 25% CO2 at 5°C had significantly higher concentrations of 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC), over 0.5 nmol ACC/g fresh weight in mesocarp tissue. All the other treatments had similar ACC levels (<0.3 nmol/g fresh weight) after 21 days in CA. Ethylene production rates at both temperatures were significantly lower in the 10% CO2 treatment than in control fruit and were not detectable in 25% CO2. Ethylene production was similar in all treatments after transfer to air. Fruit from the 25% CO2 treatment at 5°C developed dull, green-grayish spots on the epidermis, but otherwise epidermal color, as determined by chroma and hue angles, did not differ among the treatments. There also were no differences in flesh color and flesh firmness.

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R.J. Bender, J.K. Brecht, S.A. Sargent, and D.J. Huber

Exposure to hypoxic O2 levels has been reported to result in better epidermal color, higher titratable acidity and soluble solids levels, delayed softening and reduced ethylene production and respiratory activity in many fruit species. Mangoes have been shown to tolerate short term (4 days) exposures to O2 concentrations below 0.5% with beneficial effects on firmness retention and maintenance of ground color. In the present work, `Haden' mangoes were stored for 14 days at 15°C with O2 levels ranging from 2% to 5% and compared to an air control and an atmosphere of 25% CO2 in air. `Tommy Atkins' mangoes were stored under the same treatments at 12°C for 21 days. After storage at 12 or 15°C the mangoes were transferred to air at 20°C for 5 days. Ethanol production rates during controlled atmosphere (CA) storage were significantly higher at O2 levels of 4% and below. Respiration (CO2 production) rates were reduced during CA storage but did not differ from the control after transfer to air. There were no differences in ethylene production as well as in flesh firmness, titratable acidity and total sugars. The ground color of mangoes kept under the lowest O2 concentration and under 25% CO2 was greener, as indicated by higher hue angles, than in the other treatments upon transfer to air at 20°C. However, only the mangoes stored under high CO2 maintained higher hue angles during the subsequent 5 days at 20°C.

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A. Urena, D.J. Huber, J.A. Bartz, and C.K. Chandler

Biological control using antagonistic microorganisms has been the subject of increased interest for postharvest pathogen control. Gray mold is an important factor in the perishability of strawberry fruit, both pre- and postharvest. In view of the specific characteristics of this host–pathogen interaction, strawberry fruit represent a suitable commodity with which to investigate the efficacy of alternative control, including the use of biological measures. During 1994 and 1995, ripe strawberry fruit were harvested from local plantings and endemic microflora were analyzed for potential antagonist modes of action toward B. cinerea. Two bacteria were isolated and these, along with other bacteria and yeast obtained from other sources, were used to inoculate strawberry fruit stored at different temperatures. Effects of storage temperature and interactions of pathogen/antagonist and fruit quality were determined. The results illustrate the potential of using yeast at low temperatures and bacteria at higher, ambient conditions to achieve effective postharvest control of B. cinerea. Microorganisms derived from the fruit and of presumably local origin exhibited significant biocontrol effects and showed a higher capacity for adaptation to the handling practices of strawberry fruit, especially at lower storage temperatures.

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A. Akinbolu, D.J. Huber, G.J. Hochmuth, and O.C. Aworh

The influence of potassium (K) on respiratory behavior, flesh firmness, and internal color of watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) was studied. Two cultivars (Crimson Sweet and Sangria) were planted at the Univ. of Florida research station, Gainesville. The fruits from both cultivars were harvested at two different stages of maturity (25 days and 35 days after anthesis). Respiration and ethylene production were measured using gas chromatography under a static system. The internal color was measured by a colorimeter, while the flesh and rind firmness were measured by a instron Universal pressure tester. Carbon dioxide and ethylene production were non-climacteric in behavior and were not greatly affected by K treatment or cultivar.

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P. Perkins-Veazie, J.R. Clark, D.J. Huber, and E.A. Baldwin

Fruit were harvested from an erect, thornless blackberry (Rubus L. subgenus Rubus Watson, `Navaho' to study ripening changes. Soluble solids content increased between the red (unripe) and dull-black (overripe) stages of ripening while titratable acidity decreased sharply between the mottled and shiny-black ripeness stages. Anthocyanin content increased sharply between the mottled and shiny-black stages. Firmness of drupelet and receptacle tissues decreased between the mottled and shiny-black stages of ripeness. In whole blackberries, total uronic acids decreased, and water soluble uronic acids increased between the green-red and shiny-black ripeness stages. Volatile production paralleled ripening changes, and was highest in dull-black fruit, with alcohols and aldehydes predominating. Respiration of intact fruit maintained in water decreased between the green and red ripeness stages and increased at the mottled (part-black) and black ripeness stages. Ethylene production remained below 10 nmol·kg-1·h-1 until the dull-black (overripe) stage of maturity. Free 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC) and ACC oxidase did not increase in berries until the shiny-black stage, corresponding with the onset of detectable ethylene production. ACC oxidase activity decreased in the drupelet tissue (0.5 to 0.01 μmol·kg-1·h-1) and increased in the receptacle tissue (2 to 3.8 μmol·kg-1·h-1) as fruit changed from red to dull black. These results indicate that ripening in blackberries may be initiated in the receptacle tissue. Ripening in blackberries is likely independent of ethylene, but ethylene may regulate berry detachment from pedicels, thus controlling timing of fruit harvests.