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  • Author or Editor: Ron Porat x
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‘Villa franca’ is the main lemon (Citrus limon) variety in Israel, also cultivated in several other citrus-growing countries. In winter, the fruit turns yellow naturally, but during the summer and autumn, it remains green on the tree and requires postharvest ethylene treatment to stimulate color change from green to yellow. However, ‘Villa franca’ lemons are very sensitive to ethylene, which enhances development of reddish/brown peel blemishes known as red blotch. In the present study, we provide three different methods for postharvest degreening of ‘Villa franca’ lemons without causing red blotch. First is a slow process, involving natural degreening during 4–5 weeks of storage at 13 °C without ethylene exposure. Second is a moderate “under-degreening” process, involving a short 48-hour exposure to ethylene followed by 2 weeks of storage at 13 °C. Third is a fast process involving degreening with ethylene for up to 4 days at a constant high conditioning temperature of 30 °C or a combination of 24 hours of ethylene treatment at 30 °C followed by additional 72 hours of exposure to ethylene at 25 °C. Overall, ‘Villa franca’ lemon growers, packers, and exporters may now choose to use any of these proposed degreening procedures, according to commercial needs and market demands.

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Molecular aspects of ethanol fermentation in citrus fruit were investigated in immature and mature ‘Star Ruby’ grapefruit (Citrus paradisi Macf.) and ‘Murcott’ mandarin (Citrus reticulata Blanco). Transcript levels of pyruvate decarboxylase (PDC) and alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH), which play a central role in ethanol fermentation, were detectable in all stages of fruit development, but accumulation of acetaldehyde (AA) and ethanol was evident only as fruit approached maturation or after several weeks of storage. Treatment of mature fruit with ethylene enhanced ethanol fermentation in grapefruit but not in mandarin. Immature fruit of both cultivars, on the other hand, responded to ethylene by prominent, although transient, enhancement of ethanol fermentation. Exposure of mature or immature fruit to anaerobic conditions (N2 atmosphere) upregulated the expression of PDC and ADH, and increased the levels of AA and ethanol. Exposure of mature fruit to anaerobic conditions also increased the enzymatic activities of PDC and ADH. The data indicate that the potential for ethanol fermentation exists in citrus fruit throughout development, even under aerobic conditions, but AA and ethanol are detected mainly toward maturation or under prolonged storage. However, prominent, long-term molecular induction of ethanol fermentation occurs only under anaerobic conditions imposed by N2 atmosphere.

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Jasmonic acid (JA) and methyl jasmonate (MJ), collectively referred to as jasmonates, are naturally occurring plant growth regulators involved in various aspects of plant development and responses to biotic and abiotic stresses. In this study, we found that postharvest application of jasmonates reduced decay caused by the green mold Penicillium digitatum (Pers.: Fr.) Sacc. after either natural or artificial inoculation of grapefruit (Citrus paradisi `Marsh Seedless'). These treatments also effectively reduced chilling injury incidence after cold storage. The most effective concentration of jasmonates for reducing decay in cold-stored fruit or after artificial inoculation of wounded fruit at 24 °C was 10 μmol·L-1. Higher and lower jasmonate concentrations were less effective at both temperatures. MJ at 10 μmol·L-1 also most effectively reduced the percentage of fruit displaying chilling injury symptoms after 6 weeks of storage at 2 °C and 4 additional d at 20 °C. When tested in vitro, neither JA nor MJ had any direct antifungal effect on P. digitatum spore germination or germ tube elongation. Therefore, it is suggested that jasmonates probably reduced green mold decay in grapefruit indirectly by enhancing the natural resistance of the fruit to P. digitatum at high and low temperatures.

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'Oroblanco' is an early-maturing pummelo-grapefruit hybrid (Citrus grandis Osbeck × C. paradisi Macf.). The fruit are usually picked and marketed while the peel color is still green; however, in some cases they can lose this green color during postharvest shipping and storage, which diminishes their commercial value. The effects of storage temperatures, gibberellic acid (GA), ethylene, and 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP) on the degreening of 'Oroblanco' fruit were examined. Storage temperature was critical for retaining fruit color: at 2 °C the fruit remained green for a period up to 5 weeks, whereas at storage temperatures of 6, 12, and 20 °C there was a progressive increase in the rate of degreening. Applications of GA, either as preharvest sprays or as postharvest dip treatments, effectively retained the green fruit color. Ethylene exposures up to 100 μL·L-1 for 3 days had only a slight effect on fruit degreening, and 1-MCP treatments up to 200 nL·L-1 for 16 hours had no effect at all. The slight influence of ethylene and the ineffectiveness of 1-MCP on fruit color change can not be attributed to difficulties in their application, since in the same experiments ethylene markedly induced peduncle abscission, and 1-MCP effectively inhibited this ethylene effect. Accordingly, ethylene had only a relatively small effect on the induction of chlorophyllase enzyme activity in green 'Oroblanco' peel tissue.

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