1-Methylcyclopropene Counteracts Ethylene-Induced Microbial Growth on Fresh-cut Watermelon

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The effects of exogenous ethylene, 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP), or both on microbial growth on watermelon fruit and watermelon slices were investigated. Freshly harvested seedless watermelons (Citrullus lanatus, cv. Sugar Heart) were treated with 0.5 or 1.0 ppm 1-MCP, 10 ppm ethylene, 1-MCP + ethylene, or left untreated as controls. Fruits were processed into wedge-shaped slices, packaged into rigid trays sealed with a polyethylene film with a 29.2pmols−1m−2 Pa−1 oxygen transmission rate.The slices were evaluated after 0-, 6-,and12-d storage at 5°C. Ethylene treatment alone increased the populations of aerobic bacteria, lactic acid bacteria, and yeasts and molds on the packaged slices during storage compared to those on corresponding control slices and resulted in extensive juice leakage from the slices. The ethylene treatment also resulted in high aerobic bacterial counts throughout the flesh of whole melons compared to the controls. Treating watermelons with 0.5 or 1.0ppm1-MCP prior to ethylene exposure counteracted the deleterious effects of ethylene. Extending the time from harvest to 1-MCP treatment increased the population of aerobic bacteria, but had no detectable effect on the growth of lactic acid bacteria or yeasts and molds. The results indicate that low concentrations (0.5 or 1.0 ppm) of 1-MCP can be used on whole watermelon to avoid deleterious effects of exogenous ethylene to which the melons could be exposed during shipping or storage.

Bin Zhou
James L. McEvoy
Yaguang Luo
Robert A. Saftner
Hao Feng
Tony Beltran
Journal of Food Science