A Georgia State University professor has developed an innovative new way to keep produce and flowers fresh for longer periods of time. Microbiologist George Pierce's method uses a naturally occurring microorganism — no larger than the width of a human hair — to induce enzymes that extend the ripening time of fruits and vegetables, and keeps the blooms of flowers fresh.
The process does not involve genetic engineering or pathogens, but involves microorganisms known to be associated with plants, and are considered to be helpful and beneficial to them.
"These beneficial soil microorganisms serve essentially the same function as eating yogurt as a probiotic to have beneficial organisms living in the gastrointestinal system," Pierce said.
The process works by manipulating the organism's diet so that it will over express certain enzymes and activities that work in the ripening process and keeping the flower blooms fresh. Pierce analogizes this to using diet and exercise to improve the performance of an athlete.
"We change the diet of the organism, and we can change its performance," Pierce said. "It's no different than taking a good athlete and putting them on a diet and exercise regime, and turning him or her into a world-class athlete."
In a very simple sense, climacteric plants — such as apples, bananas, peaches and tomatoes —respond to climactic change, and when they do, they produce increased levels of signal compounds like ethylene. For fruit such as peaches, ethylene causes the peach to ripen, increases aroma chemicals, but unfortunately, makes the peach very fragile.
"If you've seen ripe peaches, they will simply fall apart," Pierce said. "It will lose 90 percent of its ability to resist pressure, which means that if a peach responds normally to ethylene, it is subject to bruising when you ship it."
The enzymes produced from Pierce's new method reduce the response to signal compounds so that it takes a longer period of time for fruits to ripen, doubling the time it takes for ripening.
The catalyst in this process can be distributed through various formulations and configurations. These include being incorporated into shipping boxes, packing materials or used to treat the air of shipping containers. It could be used either with individual fruits or vegetables or for larger, bulk quantities.
This new process could have a big impact on preventing waste, improving the consumption of healthy fruits and vegetables, allowing companies to ship produce longer distances.
"Who hasn't bought fruit or vegetables and then thrown them away?" Pierce said. "Most people will buy more, and consume more, if they know that they could have a better quality of produce for longer." Pierce said.
The method also will allow for the storage of fruits, vegetables and flowers at room temperatures rather than refrigeration, thus helping to save energy, Pierce said.
The U.S. patents related to this invention are owned by the Georgia State University Research Foundation, Inc.
Jeremy Craig | EurekAlert!
MicroRNA helps cancer evade immune system
19.09.2017 | Salk Institute
Ruby: Jacobs University scientists are collaborating in the development of a new type of chocolate
18.09.2017 | Jacobs University Bremen gGmbH
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...
Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...
Scientists from the MPI for Chemical Energy Conversion report in the first issue of the new journal JOULE.
Cell Press has just released the first issue of Joule, a new journal dedicated to sustainable energy research. In this issue James Birrell, Olaf Rüdiger,...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
19.09.2017 | Event News
19.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
19.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering