IMPROVED KNOWLEDGE OF VIRULENCE FACTORS TO DEVELOP POSTHARVEST DECAY CONTROL STRATEGIES
Project Number: 1275-42430-010-00
Start Date: May 17, 2007
End Date: May 16, 2012
Objective 1: Elucidate the role of fungal extracellular enzymes as virulence factors important in postharvest decay of fresh fruit including the effect of pathogen modification of the host environment on virulence factors.
Objective 2: Evaluate potential control strategies targeting fungal extracellular enzymes to reduce postharvest decay of fresh fruit.
Sub-objective 2.A. Optimize the application of recombinant antibodies targeting extracellular enzymes of P. expansum and P. solitum to reduce postharvest decay of pome fruits.
Sub-objective 2.B. Determine the effect of antioxidants and their analogs on decay development.
To elucidate the role of fungal extracellular enzymes as virulence factors in postharvest decay of apple and pear fruit, we will first compare the ability of several strains of a highly virulent and a weakly virulent pathogen of the same genus to produce extracellular enzymes (such as polygalacturonases and cellulases) during fruit infection and in response to fungal modification of the host/pathogen microenvironment. 'Golden Delicious' apple and 'Anjou' pear fruit will be infected with P. expansum or P. solitum and we will extract, purify, and characterize the extracellular enzymes produced by these organisms using standard procedures. We will develop and utilize recombinant antibodies specific for binding to and inactivating enzymes produced by the pathogens in vivo and in vitro. The antibodies will allow us to determine which specific enzymes play a major role in virulence of Penicillium species on pome fruit. Strategies incorporating recombinant antibodies against virulence factors, antioxidants known to have anti-fungal activity, and mild stress treatments will be tested for their ability to control postharvest decays of pome fruits caused by Penicillium species.