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Title: Carotenoid Content of Intact Watermelons after Storage

item Perkins Veazie, Penelope
item Collins, Julie

Submitted to: Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/1/2006
Publication Date: 8/1/2006
Citation: Perkins Veazie, P.M., Collins, J.K. 2006. Carotenoid content of intact watermelons after storage. Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry. 54:5868-5874.

Interpretive Summary: Watermelons may be held in several places after harvest, including air temperature during shipment, and in refrigerators after consumer purchase. Lycopene, the red pigment in watermelon and tomato, is a strong antioxidant. This study was done to determine if the lycopene content in watermelon changed after two weeks storage at different temperatures. Watermelons held at room temperature gained in lycopene and in beta carotene (a precursor of vitamin A). Fruit held at refrigerator temperatures lost small amounts of lycopene and beta carotene. These changes occurred in both seeded and seedless watermelons. Results show that lycopene can be synthesized or lost in watermelons depending on storage temperatures.

Technical Abstract: Watermelon contains lycopene, a red carotenoid pigment that has strong antioxidant properties. The lycopene content of watermelon is significant, contributing 8 to 20 mg per 180 g serving. There are no reports on carotenoid changes in whole watermelon during storage. Three types of watermelon, open pollinated seeded, hybrid seeded, and seedless types, were stored at 5, 13, and 21C for 14 days and flesh color, composition, and carotenoid content were compared to melons not stored. Watermelons continued to ripen during storage at 21ºC, with decreased rind thickness, increased pH, chroma, and carotenoid content compared to fresh fruit. Compared to fresh fruit, watermelons stored at 21C gained 11 to 40% in lycopene and 50 to 1.39% in beta carotene while fruit held at 13C changed little in carotenoid content. These results indicate that carotenoid biosynthesis in watermelons can be affected by temperature and storage.