Summary of Awards to Date

Postharvest biology of fruits.

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Date

Oct. 1, 2008 - Sep. 30, 2013

Award Number

NYC-153843

Funding Agency

USDA - CSREES

Investigator

Kwangwon Lee, Ph.D.
Cornell University

Summary

The New York apple industry is the second largest in the United States and the largest in the Northeast. Many different approaches have been taken to improve the quality and economic value of apples. The high value of apples justifies the usage of expensive, controlled atmosphere facilities. Control of post-harvest diseases with previously effective fungicides is now failing due to the appearance of pesticide-resistant strains. We are proposing a highly collaborative project that will address the problem and apply the knowledge for the farmers. We will characterize light regulation of patulin production in Pennicillium expansum and also develop a practical method for apple growers/industry to utilize light as a means of suppressing post-harvest mycotoxin expression. An outcome of this proposed study is to provide an optimal and economical apple storage condition to reduce the risk of mycotoxin contamination to the apple product industry. Using light treatment as a method of controlling post-harvest diseases is a novel idea and is an environmentally friendly approach that needs to be tested. The potential benefits to apple growers, producers and consumers are exciting.

OBJECTIVES: Patulin, a carcinogenic fungal secondary metabolite in apple products, poses a major health threat to consumers. We intend to find a practical manner in which to reduce food contamination during apple storage. We have two specific aims; 1) To Characterize light regulation of patulin production in Pennicillium expansum. 2) To develop a practical method for apple growers/industry to utilize light as a means of suppressing post-harvest mycotoxin expression. Our first objective involves basic research to define the most beneficial lighting conditions for suppressing food contamination. This will lay the foundation to achieve our second objective - feasibly implementing the results of the research in a commercial context. The expected outcomes of the proposed project will satisfy one of the goals (Objective 2) of multi-state project NE1036, Develop or adapt postharvest strategies and technologies to improve quality and market competitiveness of emerging production systems, including organic, local, and small-scale. The intended outcomes of the proposed project will also satisfy two goals of the research and extension priorities, agriculture & food systems and natural resources and environment. Patulin, a carcinogenic fungal secondary metabolite in apple products, posses a major health threat for the consumers. An outcome of this proposed study is to provide an optimal and economical apple storage condition to reduce the risk of mycotoxin contamination to the apple product industry. Using light treatment as a method of controlling post-harvest diseases is a novel idea and is an environmentally friendly approach that needs to be tested. The potential benefits to apple growers, producers and consumers are exciting.