Submitted to: Plant Genetic Resources: Characterization and Utilization
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/16/2015
Publication Date: 4/16/2015
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/61214
Citation: Stommel, J.R., Camp, M.J., Luo, Y., Welten, A. 2015. Genetic diversity provides opportunities for improvement of fresh-cut pepper quality. Plant Genetic Resources: Characterization and Utilization. 14(2): 112-120.
Interpretive Summary: Considerable research has been conducted to develop pepper varieties with greater yield and disease resistance. Additional research is needed to develop varieties suitable for new retail and food service markets that require fresh sliced and diced product. We evaluated a diverse collection of peppers for attributes that contribute to shelf-life of fresh cut pepper. Varieties were identified that were resistant to deterioration over 14-days of cold storage. The results afford opportunities for plant breeders to incorporate attributes that contribute to fresh cut quality into elite varieties that will benefit the food industry and consumers.
Technical Abstract: Extensive genetic diversity present in the Capsicum genepool has been utilized extensively to improve pepper disease resistance, fruit quality and varied yield attributes. Little attention has been dedicated to genetic enhancement of pepper fresh-cut quality. We evaluated pepper accessions with diverse fruit phenotype selected from available cultivars and the USDA, ARS Capsicum genebank. Marketable full size green fruit of 50 pepper accessions were washed, sliced and stored at 4 °C in packages with selective oxygen transmission rate. Analysis of tissue respiration, fresh weight loss and electrolyte leakage after 7, 10, and 14 days of storage, identified significant differences across as well as within sweet bell, large elongate, jalapeno and serrano fruit classes. Sweet bell and large elongate fruited accessions generally exhibited high electrolyte leakage after 10 to 14 days of storage whereas jalapeno and serrano accessions maintained stable electrolyte leakage levels up to 14 days of storage. The jalapeno and serrano fruit classes were typified by higher respiration rates in comparison to the sweet bell and large elongated fruit classes. Fresh weight loss was low for accessions in all fruit classes. Exceptional sweet bell and large elongate fruited accessions that maintained low electrolyte leakage after 14 days of storage and O2:CO2 levels within recommended parameters for fresh produce were identified. Accessions within jalapeno and serrano fruit classes were also identified that maintained stable electrolyte leakage levels throughout the storage period despite suboptimal O2 concentration in modified atmosphere storage bags. Regression analysis demonstrated a relationship between overall visual quality and electrolyte leakage after 14 days of storage for accessions in the sweet bell and large elongated fruit classes, but not for accessions represented in jalapeno or serrano fruit classes. The results demonstrate that extensive genetic variation is present in Capsicum to improve pepper fresh-cut quality.