Ferulic acid treatment reinforces the resistance of postharvest apple fruit during gray mold infection

  • Junhua He
  • Lijing Ma
  • Dajiang Wang
  • Mengyu Zhang
  • Huiling ZhouEmail author
Original Article


Ferulic acid, the most common phenolic acid in plants, is widely used industrially because of its chemical and biological activities. Few studies, however, have examined its mode of action on postharvest diseases caused by Botrytis cinerea. In this study, we therefore investigated the activity and efficacy of ferulic acid treatment on gray mold of apple fruit. ‘Pink Lady’ apple fruits were soaked in 0.80 g l−1 ferulic acid solution for 20 min, incubated for 12 h, and inoculated with 20 μl of a B. cinerea conidial suspension. Distilled water was used instead of ferulic acid as a control. Samples were collected regularly, with the incidence and diameters of lesions surrounding each wound site measured and recorded at the same time. Compared with the control, ferulic acid treatment was found to significantly increase activities of enzymes in the phenylpropanoid pathway (p < 0.05) and thus effectively improve total phenol and flavonoid accumulations. This treatment also affected the activities of enzymes in the lignin biosynthesis pathway, thereby promoting lignin production while decreasing disease incidence and lesion diameters (p < 0.05). The production of hydrogen peroxide and superoxide radicals also decreased. On the basis of these findings, we conclude that ferulic acid treatment can augment the defense response of apple fruit by enhancing the activities of resistance-related enzymes and boosting the accumulation of resistance-related substances, thereby reducing the incidence of gray mold.


Malus domestica Phenolic acid Botrytis cinerea Disease response and resistance 



This study was financially supported by the National Modern Agriculture (Apple) Industrial Technology System Construction Special Project of China (grant no. nycylx-08-05-02). The authors thank the College of Horticulture, Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University, for providing laboratory facilities. We thank Liwen Bianji, Edanz Group China (, for editing the English text of a draft of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Società Italiana di Patologia Vegetale (S.I.Pa.V.) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Junhua He
    • 1
  • Lijing Ma
    • 1
  • Dajiang Wang
    • 1
  • Mengyu Zhang
    • 1
  • Huiling Zhou
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.College of HorticultureNorthwest Agriculture and Forestry UniversityYanglingChina

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