Submitted to: Journal of Applied Microbiology
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/1/2004
Publication Date: 1/1/2004
Citation: Mlikota-Gabler, F., Smilanick, J.L., Mansour, M., Mackey, B.E. 2004. Survival of spores of rhizopus stolonifier, aspergillus niger, botrytis cinerea, and alternaria alternata after exposure to ethanol solutions at various temperatures.. Journal of Applied Microbiology 96:1354-1360. Interpretive Summary: Postharvest decay of fresh produce is the result of colonization by fungal pathogens. Ethanol is common, natural anti-microbial substance. Although this has been well known for more than a century, little work has been done to quantify its toxicity against postharvest plant pathogenic fungi, or to show how mild heating of the solution greatly enhances its toxicity. The four most common decay fungi can be killed readily with ethanol in low concentration if mild heating is employed. This approach has excellent promise to control these troublesome fungi on food products and in food processing facilities.
Technical Abstract: We quantified and modeled the toxicity of brief exposures of spores of Rhizopus stolonifer, Aspergillus niger, Botrytis cinerea and Alternaria alternata to heated, aqueous ethanol solutions. These fungi are common postharvest decay pathogens of fresh grapes and other produce. Sanitation of produce reduces postharvest losses caused by these and other pathogens. Methods and Results: Spores of the fungi were exposed to solutions containing up to 30% (v/v) ethanol at 25'50C for 30 s, then their survival was determined by germination on semisolid media. Logistical, second-order surface-response models were prepared for each fungus. Sub-inhibitory ethanol concentrations at ambient temperatures became inhibitory when heated at temperatures much lower than those that cause thermal destruction of the spores by water alone. At 40C, the estimated ethanol concentrations that inhibited the germination of 50% (LD50) of the spores of B. cinerea, A. alternata, A. niger and R. stolonifer were 9.7, 13.5, 19.6 and 20.6%, respectively. Conclusions: Ethanol and heat combinations were synergistic. Control of spores of these fungi could be accomplished with much lower temperatures and ethanol concentrations when combined compared with either used alone. Botrytis cinerea and A. alternata were less resistant to the combination than A. niger or R. stolonifer.