2024-SCBG-Microbial Fungal Rotting of Fruits & Vegetables

Grants and Contracts Details


The post-harvest rotting of fruits and vegetables is a significant cause of agricultural losses (Feliziani & Romanazzi, 2016; Thole et al., 2020; Kim et al., 2022; Malarczyk et al., 2019). The post-harvest rotting is predominantly due to fungal infections and can be suppressed by synthetic fungicides. However, synthetic fungicides carry significant risks for human health, and consumer awareness of this health problem has shifted purchasing behavior towards organically-grown produce which is typically more susceptible to rotting. In addition to causing losses in crop market value, fungal rotting may lead to the accumulation of mycotoxins, which are detrimental to human health (Nan et al., 2022). In plants, the phenylpropanoid pathway serves as a rich source of natural products, many of which accumulate upon fungal invasion, suggesting that phenylpropanoids play an important role in the defense against fungal pathogens (Yadav et al., 2020). Importantly, the increased production of these metabolites occurs in response to a wide range of microbial infections, suggesting that their protective activities are not restricted to specific protection against particular pathogens. We have recently shown that two phenylpropanoids directly suppress fungal sporulation and growth (Shull et al., 2020). These two metabolites, trans-cinnamic acid and para-coumaric acid, are non-toxic for humans and could be used in the post-harvest treatment of fruits and vegetables to prolong shelf life and prevent mycotoxin accumulation. This project aims to test if these two natural fungicides can be used to preserve tomatoes, strawberries, blackberries, and sweet potatoes, all of which are susceptible to post-harvest fungal rotting and are specialty crops in Kentucky agriculture.
Effective start/end date2/29/249/29/26


  • KY Department of Agriculture: $25,249.00


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