Methods for improving natural resistance in fruits

The role of plant pathology in so-called integrated pest management (IPM) is outlined next. Large parts of fruits have to be stored for more or less extended periods of time before they are sold to consumers, causing considerable losses from pathogen attack and natural senescence. Well established solutions for improving this situation based on the use of synthetic pesticides are not free of problems owing to human health risks and environmental effects caused by chemical pesticides. New strategies for solving these problems are based on the development of methods to improve the natural plant resistance by using their own natural processes of pest suppression to control spoilage.

A considerable number of investigations have been conducted on the identification of these secondary plant metabolites and on understanding host-parasite interactions.129-131 For example, since 1990 many studies have been published on the development of disease-resistant transgenic plants.132-138 However, a comprehensive genetic analysis of host-pathogen interactions is in many cases still impractical, such that a more classical phytopathologic approach to the activation of plant defence responses is still in use.139,140

In what follows, selected examples are presented to provide state-of-the-art in post-harvest science studies using different approaches for improvement of the natural resistance in fruits. The following topics will be covered:

1. stress-induced methods: anoxic and other treatments

2. direct exogenous application of plant phytoalexins as natural pesticides

3. fruit decay inhibition by prestorage heat treatment

4. disease-resistant transgenic plants.

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