|dc.description.abstract||Avocados are one of the major food sources in tropical and subtropical regions and are an important horticultural crop in South Africa. Avocados are exported over long distances and may have storage times of up to 30 or more days at temperatures of about 5.5oC. This procedure increases the risk of poor fruit quality, including physiological disorders, early softening and postharvest disease incidence. A major component of the postharvest diseases is Anthracnose caused by Colletotrichum gloeosporioides. Anthracnose infects unripe fruit and once infected, the fungus remains dormant in the fruit until ripening begins. This leads to a problem for producers and packers, as the presence of the disease cannot be detected on the pack line, and fruit is not removed. Anthracnose control is normally done through pre-harvest treatment with copper-based fungicides. While effective such treatment needs to be repeated frequently, resulting in copper residues on the avocados.
The study was conducted to investigate the effects of phosphoric acid and potassium silicate on known antifungal compounds and critical enzymes of the pathways elemental for systemic resistance inducers, so as to evaluate the potential for using them as alternatives to or in conjunction with, copper fungicides in the control of Anthracnose in avocado fruit. The study included storage temperature and time variations, to take account of the logistics in shipping avocado fruit to distant markets.
Pre- and postharvest applications of phosphoric acid and potassium silicate were used, and after harvest, fruit were either ripened at room temperature (22oC) without storage or stored for 28 days at temperatures of 5.5oC or 2oC before analysis.
Concentrations of phenolics, activity of the enzyme phenylalanine ammonia lyase (PAL) and a known antifungal diene were determined in the fruit exocarp. Pre-harvest treatments of phosphoric acid showed that the highest phenolic concentration was found in fruit harvested 14 days after application for fruit stored at room temperature. For fruit stored at 5.5°C it was seen that as fruit softened, phenolic concentrations increased compared with hard fruit immediately after storage, with the highest increase noted for fruit harvested 7 days after application. When comparing the three storage temperatures, phenolic concentrations were enhanced most when fruit was stored at 2°C. Postharvest treatments showed a significant
increase in phenolic concentrations for potassium silicate treated fruit stored at room temperature and 2°C when determined immediately after storage. Fruit stored at 5.5°C showed an increase in phenolic concentrations as it became softer.
When considering PAL enzyme activity, it was found that postharvest treatments of both potassium silicate and phosphoric acid influenced enzyme activity, with potassium silicate having greater effects. Similarly, an increase in PAL activity was noted in the pre-harvest phosphoric acid treatment harvested 14 days after application for fruit ripened immediately as well as fruit stored at 5.5°C. Fruit stored at 2°C showed the highest PAL activity for fruit harvested 7 days after application.
No results were obtained in the analysis of antifungal compounds for both pre- and postharvest treatments. However, it is suggested that the antifungal diene could follow similar trends to those found for phenolics.
It is concluded that applications of both phosphoric acid and potassium silicate do create changes in phenolic concentrations and the activity of the enzyme PAL which is involved in the synthesis of phenolic compounds known to possess antifungal properties. It is therefore possible that phosphoric acid and potassium silicate may be used as part of an integrated programme for Anthracnose control, and should be tested as potential alternatives for high volume copper-based fungicides.||en