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  • Author or Editor: E. Baldwin x
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The promise of biotechnology has been slow to be realized, but some commercialized products are finding their way to supermarket shelves. Nevertheless, the future potential remains in the realm of speculation and may be on the verge of delivering some incredible benefits. Since the world population growth is predicted to double in the next 50 years, primarily in developing nations, food resources will become critical. In view of this prediction, we may need every trick in the book to feed the masses, which means either more land (wetlands, forests, and rain forests) will fall to the plow or there will need to be an increase in yields. Concurrently, a decrease in postharvest losses would also be crucial. Various authorities have estimated that 25% to 80% of harvested fruits and vegetables are lost due to damage and spoilage. Early biotech successes were developing plants with enhanced insect resistance (cotton, corn, and potato) and virus resistance (squash and papaya) and improved herbicide tolerance (cotton, soybean, and corn). The only commercialized transgenic fruit engineered for improved postharvest quality so far is the tomato. Future goals for biotechnology include increasing yield, extending shelf life, improving nutritional and flavor quality, and producing specialty proteins or other compounds. Genetically engineered food, however, has met rancorous resistance in Europe, New Zealand, and elsewhere; although, it is somewhat tolerated in the U.S. The U.S., Canada, and Japan lead the world in biotech acreage, with biotechnology accounting for 40% of cotton, 39% of soybeans, and 20% of corn acreage in the U.S. and 73 million acres worldwide.

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More than 400 volatile components have been identified in tomato fruit, of which only 10–16 are likely to be important contributors to tomato flavor/aroma based on odor threshold data. Tomato volatiles are grouped as lipid-derived, carotenoid-related, amino acid-related, lignin-related, or of uncertain origin. These flavor components are either present in intact fruit or formed after blending due to mixing of previously compartmentalized enzymes and substrates. Lipid-derived volatiles are the biggest group containing cis-3-hexenal and hexanal, which are quantitatively the major volatile compounds in tomato fruit. cis-3-Hexenal and -ionone have the highest odor thresholds among tomato volatile compounds so far identified. Most of these compounds increase during ripening (or the enzymes, substrates and conditions develop that result in increased levels after blending) and appear to be related to ethylene production. Biosynthetic pathways have been established or suggested for most of the important flavor components, of which lipid degradation is the best-understood. Linoleic and linolenic acids are oxidized to hydroperoxides by lipoxygenase, which are then cleaved to volatile C6 aldehydes (hexanal and cis-3-hexenal, respectively). There are two membrane-associated lipoxygenases (tomloxA and B), of which tomloxB appears to be fruit-specific and increases during ripening. Alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) has been demonstrated to catalyze the interconversion of trans-hexene-2-al and -2-ol and of trans-hexene-2-al, hexanal and hexanol. The enzyme product of the Adh2 gene is induced by 3% O2, and is developmentally expressed in fruit aside from anoxic induction. Naturally occurring mutants and genetically engineered tomatoes with reduced ethylene production, color and/or retarded ripening patterns show changes in volatile concentrations.

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Pecans (Carya illinoinensis) are full of unsaturated fatty acids, which are subject to oxidative cleavage. This results in the development of rancid off-flavors, which render the nuts unmarketable. For this reason, pecans must be stored under costly refrigerated conditions. Furthermore, pecans usually undergo retail distribution and marketing at ambient conditions, which promote development of off-flavors. Application of cellulose-based edible coatings reduced off-flavor, and improved overall flavor scores while adding shine to the nuts during 14 months of storage under ambient conditions. Development of rancidity involves hydrolysis of glycerides into free fatty acids, oxidation of double bonds of unsaturated fatty acids to form peroxides and then autooxidation of the free fatty acids once the peroxides reach a sufficient level to perpetuate this reaction. One of the products of autooxidation is hexanal which is, thus, a good indicator of rancidity. Analysis of pecans by gas chromatography revealed that hexanal levels were reduced in coated nuts by 5- to over 200-fold compared to uncoated controls, depending on the coating treatment. Some of the coating treatments affected nut color, but overall flavor and appearance were improved by certain formulations.

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There are many methods to test the efficiency of antimicrobial compounds. Our goals were to perform screens of several natural, experimental compounds and evaluate their effects on postharvest pathogenic fungi isolated from fruit. This screen was the first test in series that would allow us to see if these experimental compounds had potential use as components in a coating or as a preharvest treatment to help insure postharvest fruit quality. The disc assay method was chosen as a preliminary method for our screen as most of our compounds are water soluble and this method is straightforward, efficient and easy to interpret. This poster describes the testing of natural compounds against problematic postharvest fungi using the disc assay as a screening method. The results of various compounds are shown via the formation of a prominent zone of inhibition. Comparisons are also shown of non-responsive compounds to Penicillium digitatum and Geotrichum citri-aurantii. The clarity of using this method for step-wise dilutions of the anti-fungal compounds is shown.

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Fungal cell-wall lysing enzymes have been shown to induce ethylene production in different plant systems. The effect of endogenous plant cell-wall lysing enzymes on ethylene synthesis in fruit has received only limited attention. Therefore, tomato fruit (Lycopersicon esculentum, Mill.) were vacuum–infiltrated with the tomato cell-wall enzymes, polygalacturonase I and II (PG I, PG II) and pectinmethylesterase (PME). Fruit ethylene levels were observed to increase relative to either salt, buffer, or boiled enzyme controls. This increase in ethylene production occurred in green ‘Cherry’ tomato fruit as well as in the mutants rin, nor, and Cornell 111. Enzyme-induced ethylene synthesis generally peaked at or before 17 to 20 hr and decreased to lower or basal levels in most immature normal cultivars by 42 hr after treatment. Ethylene was maintained at high levels, however, in some (possibly more mature) green fruit, as well as in all mutant lines. PG II was more effective than PG I in inducing ethylene production and PME seemed to enhance the ethylene-inducing activity of PG II.

Open Access

Oregon produces most of the processing blackberries in the United States. `Marion' blackberry (Rubus hybrid) is a trailing, thorny plant type with fruit highly prized for its unique flavor and superior processing quality. Blackberries developed in other parts of the United States grow well in Oregon but differ in flavor from `Marion' fruit. `Marion' blackberry plants are thorny and highly susceptible to freeze injury; growers desire a thornless, higher yielding, and more winter tolerant plant with similar fruit flavor and quality. This experiment was done to identify volatiles unique to `Marion' that may be incorporated into new germplasm. Forty-two volatile peaks were identified in blackberries using headspace gas chromatography and known standards. Ethylacetate and trans-2-hexenol were present in very low amounts and nerilidol was present in an unusually high amount in fresh `Marion' homogenates relative to other blackberry cultivars. Nerilidol is a volatile commonly associated with raspberry flavor and may come from the raspberry germplasm in the breeding background of `Marion'. It appears that the flavor of `Marion' fruit results from proportional differences in several volatile compounds rather than the presence of volatiles unique to this cultivar.

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In the United States, as much as 10% of the watermelon sold is as a minimally processed product. These products are prepared at the retail level as cubed flesh in plastic food containers or as halved slices wrapped in plastic film. The shelf life of these products at different temperatures is not known. In this study, `Allsweet' and `Jubilee' ripe watermelons were washed, wiped with a 5% bleach solution, and cut into transverse slices using surface-sterilized knives. Halves of these slices were sprayed with distilled water (pH 7.0) or with Natureseal plus 5% ascorbic acid (pH 4.5), wrapped with plastic film (0.05-mm thickness), and stored at 2 and 5 °C for 4 to 6 days. Weight loss of wrapped slices was 0.1 % at 2 and 5 °C after 4 days of storage and 0.5% of slices sprayed with Natureseal. Watermelon flesh became slimy after 3 and 5 days of storage at 5 and 2 °C, respectively, especially in slices treated with Natureseal. Fruit rinds developed brown stains and became very soft. In a separate study, watermelon slices (flesh and rind) placed in jars at 10 °C lost the characteristic watermelon odor after 2 days and a more pumpkin-like odor developed. Respiration after 1 day at 10 °C was 6 to 8 mL CO2/kg-h and increased after 5 days of storage to 13 and 25 mL CO2/kg-h for `Allsweet' and `Jubilee', respectively. Ethylene production was 0.04 to 0.06 μL/kg-h after 1 day of storage, increasing to 0.55 μL/kg-h after 5 days of storage. Results indicate that cut watermelon should be held at temperatures of 2 °C or less for no more than 3 days.

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Mature green `Sunbeam' tomato fruit (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) were treated in water for 1 hr at 27 (ambient), 39, 42, 45, or 48°C, and then either ripened at 20°C (nonchilled) or stored at 2°C (chilled) for 14 days before ripening at 20°C. The most-effective heat treatment was 42°C, which reduced decay 67% in chilled fruit and 53% in nonchilled fruit. Heat treatment had no effect on time required to ripen the fruit. Red-ripe tomatoes had higher respiration rates and evolved more ethylene following nonchilling storage, but heat treatment had no effect on respiration or ethylene evolution. Red color development was enhanced by heat treatment, and inhibited by chilling. At red ripe, fruit were firmer as a result of storage at the chilling temperature, while heat treatment had no effect on firmness. Heat-treated fruit were preferred in terms of taste and texture over nontreated fruit in informal taste tests, with the exception of the 45°C treatment. With increasing temperature of heat treatment, there was increased electrolyte leakage following chilling storage. Of the 15 flavor volatiles analyzed, the levels of five were decreased with increasing temperature of heat treatment. Storage at the chilling temperature reduced the levels of six flavor volatiles. Prestorage heat treatments can reduce decay with only minimal adverse effects on tomato fruit quality.

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Mature green `Sunbeam' tomato fruit (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.), were treated in varying order with C2H4, 42°C water for 60 minutes, 38°C air for 48 hours, partial ripening for 48 hours at 20°C, or not treated, and then stored at 2°C for 14 days before ripening at 20°C. Heat treated fruit stored at 2°C and transferred to 20°C ripened normally while 63% of nonheated fruit decayed before reaching red ripe. More chilling injury (CI) developed when C2H4 was applied following heat treatment rather than before. There was more CI in fruit that were 42°C water treated compared with the 38°C air treatment. Less CI developed on fruit that were partially ripened for 2 days at 20°C before a 42°C water treatment rather than following it. At red ripe, nonchilled fruit were firmer than chilled heat treated fruit. Fruit treated in 42°C water were firmer when the heat treatment was applied before the C2H4 treatment rather than following it. Chlorophyll and lycopene content and internal quality characteristics of fruit were similar at the red ripe stage irrespective of C2H4 or heat treatment. Chilling and heat treatments reduced some of the 15 flavor volatiles analyzed. Volatile levels were lower in fruit treated with C2H4 before heat treatment compared with fruit treated with C2H4 following heat treatment. Prestorage heat treatments could allow for storage of mature green tomatoes at low temperatures with little loss in their ability to ripen normally.

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The objective of this study was to determine the effects of prestorage heat treatments on chilling tolerance of tomatoes. Mature-green `Agriset' tomato fruit (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.), either C2H4-treated or not, were immersed in 42C water for 60 min, held in 38C air for 48 hours, or not treated, and then stored at either 2C (chilled) or 13C (nonchilled) for 14 days before ripening at 20C. Heat-treated fruit stored at 2C and transferred to 20C ripened normally while nonheated fruit decayed before reaching red ripe. Color (a*/b* ratio), lycopene content, and internal quality characteristics of fruit were similar at the red-ripe stage irrespective of method of heat treatment. In red-ripe heat-treated fruit, free sterol levels were significantly higher in chilled fruit than in nonchilled fruit. Heating fruit in 38C air resulted in significantly higher levels of some free sterols compared with heating fruit in 42C water. Of the 15 flavor volatiles analyzed, six showed significantly decreased concentrations as a result of C2H4-treatment and seven showed decreased concentrations when stored at 2C before ripening. Some volatiles were decreased by the heat treatments. Prestorage short- and long-term heat treatments could allow for storage of mature-green tomatoes at lower temperatures with little loss of their ability to ripen normally.

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