ARS researchers have discovered and isolated a naturally-occurring yeast found on apples, called Metschnikowia pulcherrima, which controls blue mold on apples. In laboratory studies, the beneficial yeast effectively controlled Penicillium expansum, which causes blue mold–the leading cause of postharvest fruit decay on stored apples in the United States. Although other biological controls exist, ARS’s strain is unique in that it can grow at low cold storage temperatures. In addition, this species is very resistant to diphenylamine (DPA), an antioxidant used on apples to prevent superficial scald (browning). This addresses needs in U.S. Central and Eastern regions where DPA drenching is commonly used.
The invention addresses important problems facing the fruit industry including declining effectiveness of registered fungicides and no suitable fungicide replacements, public pressure to reduce fungicide use, and public demand for produce free of synthetic pesticides. Also, currently used fungicides often do not provide sufficient control of postharvest decay of apples, because the fungi that cause fruit decay develop resistance to the fungicides. ARS has tested this beneficial yeast in small-scale studies, however, companies interested in this technology will have to develop the best application rates for their operation. This new biological fungicide works very well on apples, and has also proven effective on pears. It may also work on other fruits and vegetables, but broad spectrum testing will be necessary. A company may wish to enter into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement to further investigate this technology and its application for broad spectrum use.
This technology can be used by agrichemical companies and other companies that manufacture fungicides. No foreign rights are available.
Please refer to patent application S.N. 10/140,817 (Docket #0089.01), "Biological Control of Postharvest Decay of Fruit Using Strains of Metschnikowia Species," which was filed on May 9, 2002.
Wojciech J. Janisiewicz
Innovative Fruit Production,
Improvement and Protection
Kearneysville, WV 25430-9425
(304) 725-3451 / Fax: (304) 728-2340