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Acidified peel of litchi fruits selects for postharvestPenicillium decay

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Litchi fruits are fumigated after harvest with sulfur dioxide (SO2) to prevent their rapid browning. SO2 blocks enzymatic activity but bleaches the fruits and, if this process is followed by dipping the fruit in dilute hydrochloric acid, the appealing red color is regained. Hot water brushing (HWB) is among the alternative methods that were developed to replace the use of SO2. HWB reduced fungal population size on the surface of the fruit peel after treatment but did not eliminate fruit infection after storage. Whereas untreated fruits were infected with a variety of fungal species,Penicillium sp. was the only fungus that developed on the pericarp after storage in fruits that had been dipped in 1.5M HCl. Fruit treated by HWB followed by handling and storage under sterile conditions suffered greater decay than fruit stored under non-sterile conditions but with more ventilation. APenicillium sp. isolated from litchi grew well in liquid medium acidified to the pH range reported for SO2 and HCl-treated litchi fruits. Morphological analysis identified fungal isolates asP. aurantiogriseum. Internal transcribed spacer sequence analysis of five isolates suggested a sequence similarity toP. commune. Our data support the hypothesis that dipping litchi fruit in hydrochloric acid eliminates infection by common opportunistic fungi and selects forPenicillium species that tolerate low pH.

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Correspondence to Amnon Lichter.

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http://www.phytoparasitica.org posting April 30, 2004.

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Lichter, A., Dvir, O., Ackerman, M. et al. Acidified peel of litchi fruits selects for postharvestPenicillium decay. Phytoparasitica 32, 226 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02979817

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Key words

  • Litchi chinensis
  • postharvest pathogens
  • cold storage
  • sulfur dioxide