Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: April 10, 2004
Publication Date: January 1, 2005
Citation: Wood, D.F., Imam, S.H., Sabellano, G.P., Eyerly, P.R., Orts, W.J., Glenn, G.M. 2005. Microstructure of produce degradation. In: Lamikanra, O., Imam, S.H., Ukuku, D.O. editors. Produce degradation: pathways and prevention, Olusola Lamikanra, Syed H. Imam and Dike O. Ukuku, eds., pp. 529-561. Interpretive Summary: Edible plant parts encompass a wide array of differing origins and types of tissues and includes both vegetative and reproductive tissues. This chapter covers a few selected plant materials by discussing a brief survey of the literature and showing scanning electron micrographs of specific commodities in the fresh and aged states. The reader will be acquainted with a general idea of plant structure and surface morphology as they relate to degradation of produce. Examples will be shown of how ageing affects certain structural features in specific commodities.
Technical Abstract: Edible plant parts encompass a wide array of differing origins and types of tissues and includes both vegetative and reproductive tissues. All plant cells are surrounded by rigid cell walls. With adequate turgor and nutrients, cell walls provide support to the plant, maintain structure and give produce commodities their specific textural characteristics. Dehydration, physical damage and physiological change all contribute to the phenomenon of ageing in plant tissues. Ageing wears down the defenses of the fruit or vegetable and opens a window of opportunity for micorbial or insect invasion. Specific measures can be taken to slow the ageing process, such as refrigeration, commodity specific packaging, and various postharvest treatments in order to extend shelf-life so that fresh produce may be shipped worldwide throughout the year. Specific examples of produce degradation have been shown in scanning electron micrographs in this chapter. Similarities between various plants include an intolerance of dessication followed by rapid wrinkling of the outer layers and cracking of the cuticle. The mesocarp may separate from the outer and, in later stages, the middle lamella degenerates and cells separate under strain. Finally, microbes start invading the unprotected tissues.