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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Food Quality Laboratory » Research » Research Project #442157

Research Project: System Approaches Using Genomics and Biology to Manage Postharvest Fruit Decay, Antimicrobial Resistance, and Mycotoxins to Reduce Food Loss and Waste

Location: Food Quality Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-42430-003-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: May 18, 2022
End Date: May 17, 2027

Objective 1: Elucidate genes and mechanisms involved in postharvest pathology of fruits, such as apple (NP303, C2, PS 2b). Sub-objective 1.A. Functionally analyze 14 specific single-copy genes in Penicillium expansum using recombinant DNA technologies and evaluate mutants for defects in fruit decay, virulence, and patulin production. Sub-objective 1.B. Evaluate P. expansum mutants to inhibit and/or outcompete wild type Penicillium spp. in vitro and under controlled storage conditions. Objective 2: Develop and optimize new treatments during storage to enhance postharvest decay management of fruits. (NP303, C3, PS 3b). Sub-objective 2.A. Determine the spore holding capacity of wooden and plastic storage bins and the ability of bin inoculum to manifest in postharvest decay for stored fruit. Sub-objective 2.B: Examine and optimize new treatments to reduce fungal inoculum, combat antimicrobial resistance, and prevent rot of pome fruit during storage.

This plan will develop innovative methods, tools, and approaches to manage blue mold. Systems-based analysis of omics data has revealed virulence gene candidates expressed by Penicillium expansum during apple fruit decay. The basic research outlined in Objective 1 will verify virulence gene function in P. expansum, create new mutant antagonists, generate new fundamental information, and fill existing knowledge gaps. The applied research contained in Objective 2 will determine optimal approaches for bin sanitation, develop novel methods to reduce fungal inoculum responsible for decay, and evaluate new antagonists to block decay. Fundamental information and antagonists generated in Objective 1, coupled with practical outcomes from Objective 2, will be integrated to deliver timely solutions that impact science, industry, and the public. Optimal postharvest decay management will enhance the viability, strengthen longevity, and increase the competitiveness of the US in the global fruit market and reduce food loss and waste at commercial and consumer levels.