F. Fallanaj1, S.M. Sanzani1, C. Zavanella2 and A. Ippolito1. 1Dipartimento di Biologia e Chimica Agro-forestale ed Ambientale, Università degli Studi “Aldo Moro”, Via Amendola 165/A, 70126 Bari, Italy.
Electrolysis has recently gained particular attention in the food industry as a novel technology for preventing fruit infection in the postharvest environment. Furthermore, the application of electrolyzed oxidizing (EO) water as alternative to chemical fungicides against fruit spoilage gave also promising results. The present investigation was carried out to evaluate the potential application of electrolysis in reducing the main postharvest rots of citrus fruits. Preliminary laboratory-scale trials with wash water from different packing houses were performed. The water was added with a conidial suspension of Penicillium digitatum (105 CFU/ml) and subjected to electrolysis. Microbiological evaluation of P. digitatum vitality in orange fruit wash water showed nearly 100% inhibition of spore germination after 30 min, whereas, the complete suppression of the fungal population in lemon wash water was observed after 15 min of electrolysis. On the basis of these preliminary results, further trials were conducted in two packing houses located in Sicily (insular Italy). During the commercial trials, fruits were dipped in electrolyzed water to evaluate its ability to prevent infections during storage and shelflife. Treatment of wounded fruits with electrolyzed water compared with tap water, reduced the incidence of infection by 70% after 15 days storage at room temperature. These results suggest that the application of electrolysed water in conventional postharvest treatments may increase citrus fruit shelf-life, particularly given the current need for alternatives in the global context of organic and integrated disease management strategies.