(E)-2-hexenal can stimulate Botrytis cinerea growth in vitro and on strawberries in vivo during storage

Elazar Fallik, Douglas D. Archbold, Thomas R. Hamilton-Kemp, Ann M. Clements, Randy W. Collins, Margaret M. Barth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Some plant-derived natural volatile compounds exhibit antifungal properties and may offer an opportunity to control the causes of postharvest spoilage without affecting quality of, or leaving a residue on, fresh produce. The natural wound volatile (E)-2-hexenal has exhibited significant antifungal activity in earlier studies, but effects on spore germination and mycelial growth have not been separated, nor has the inhibitory mode of action been determined. To determine the efficacy of (E)-2-hexenal for control of Botrytis cinerea Pers. ex Fr. spore germination and mycelial growth, and to examine the mode of action, in vitro and in vivo studies were performed. Under in vitro bioassay conditions, spore germination was more sensitive to the compound than was mycelial growth. Vapor from 10.3 μmol of (E)-2-hexenal in a 120-mL petri dish completely inhibited spore germination. However, 85.6 μmol of (E)-2-hexenal was required to completely inhibit mycelial growth. Lower concentrations of the compound (5.4 and 10.3 μmol) significantly stimulated mycelial growth, especially when the volatile was added 2 days following inoculation. Mycelial growth did not occur as long as the vapor-phase concentration was 0.48 μmol·L-1 or greater. Light microscopy analysis indicated that a high concentration of volatile compound dehydrated fungal hyphae and disrupted their cell walls and membranes. Exposure of B. cinerea-inoculated and non-inoculated strawberry (Fragaria xananassa Duch.) fruit in 1.1-L low-density polyethylene film-wrapped containers to vapor of (E)-2-hexenal at 85.6 or 856 μmol (10 or 100 mL, respectively) per container for durations of 1, 4, or 7 days during 7 days of storage at 2 °C promoted the incidence of B. cinerea during subsequent shelf storage at 20 to 22 °C. Loss of fruit fresh mass and fruit firmness during storage at 22 °C was increased by (E)-2-hexenal treatment, but fruit total soluble solids, pH, titratable acidity, and color (L, C, and H values) were not affected. Thus, maintenance of a high vapor-phase level of (E)-hexenal, perhaps >0.48 μmol·L-1, may be necessary to inhibit mycelial growth and avoid enhancing postharvest mold problems, while significantly higher levels may be necessary to completely eliminate the pathogen.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)875-881
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1998


  • Fragaria xananassa
  • Gray mold
  • Postharvest
  • Vapor phase
  • Volatile

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Horticulture


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