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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Food Quality Laboratory » Research » Research Project #431525

Research Project: Improving Produce Quality and Reducing Post-Harvest Loss and Wastes

Location: Food Quality Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-43440-006-002-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 30, 2016
End Date: Sep 29, 2022

1) To optimize the design and application of a metal organic frame work (MOF) to enable the controlled release of plant hormone, ethylene, during post-harvest handling; and 2) To develop bio-mimetical patterned fruit and vegetable surfaces with targeted chemical properties.

1) USDA-ARS has recently developed a novel metal organic framework (MOF) that can be used to encapsulate plant hormone, ethylene, for fruit ripening control. However, a mechanism for controlled release of ethylene is lacking, and will be co-developed by USDA-ARS and UML. Approaches to be employed will include selective packaging, and high precision printing of materials. Methods to minimize to the accumulation of carbon dioxide in order to control the ethylene effectiveness will be further explored. 2) USDA-ARS has recently developed a bio-mimetic patterned surface (BPS) that retains the surface topography and micro-structure that resembles that of spinach leaves and cantaloupe rinds. However, the modification of surface chemistry is limited, and will be further investigated via this collaboration. First, conjugation with selected oligopeptides confers the BPS with an array of well-defined surface properties, including surface charge and surface hydrophobicity. Desired surface properties can be achieved conveniently by choosing oligopeptides with proper amino acid sequence and/or chain length. This allows theoretical studies on the effect of surface chemistry on bacterial attachment. Second, leaf epicuticular wax is proposed to be coated on the BPS to allow maximal representation of the plant tissues, both hierarchically and biochemically. This will facilitate the investigation on the effect of wax presence and thickness on the interaction between spoilage bacteria and plant surface characteristics.