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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Hilo, Hawaii » Daniel K. Inouye U.S. Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center » Tropical Crop and Commodity Protection Research » Research » Research Project #444715

Research Project: Development of User Friendly Ethylene Antagonists for Floricultural Crops

Location: Tropical Crop and Commodity Protection Research

Project Number: 2040-43000-018-037-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 15, 2023
End Date: Sep 14, 2025

The development of safe and effective anti-ethylene compounds is needed for use in postharvest floriculture production. Currently used products like 1-MCP (1-methylcyclopropene) and silver thiosulfate have drawbacks. 1-MCP is a reactive gas that is difficult to handle and requires enclosed areas for application. Silver thiosulfate (STS) is used in high dosages and contains heavy metals, which has led to environmental concerns about its disposal, especially in large quantities. It is also light sensitive and must be prepared just prior to use, which can be inconvenient. The overall goal of this project is to develop potent and user-friendly anti-ethylene products for commercial use by selective targeting of ethylene binding sites, blocking ethylene biosynthetic pathways, and creating stabilized silver formulations. Development of laboratory models of the ethylene binding site in plants to speed up the screening of new anti-ethylene compounds is also a key objective. Specific objectives are to: 1) investigate copper selective ethylene antagonists for use with cut flowers; 2) design and development of laboratory models of ethylene binding site in plants; 3) determine the effectiveness of N-heterocyclic compounds to block ethylene biosynthesis and ethylene activity; and 4) develop stabilized silver as an alternative to silver thiosulfate (STS).

The approach includes continuing research on molecules which displayed excellent anti-ethylene activity on cut flowers. We will develop a new set of user-friendly chemicals to target and permanently alter the copper receptor site and stop the ethylene action in plants. They will be tested on laboratory models of copper binding site in plants as well as floral crops. Another approach to minimize the adverse ethylene effects is to interfere with the natural ethylene production pathway. A group of N-heterocyclic compounds will be developed for this purpose. They may also function as powerful chelators for copper, and therefore not only interfere the ethylene biosynthesis but also block the ethylene binding sites, making them unavailable for gaseous ethylene. Also, promising metal ion chelators from the previous trials will be utilized as ligands for stabilizing silver ions. Such products might show dual activities not only as silver sources (alternatives to STS) but also as inhibitors of biological ethylene production. Any new technologies developed will be transferred to scientists and industry stakeholders for the improvement of floral crops, with an emphasis on tropical cut flowers.