Research Article: Optimizing shelf life conditions for anthocyanin-rich tomatoes

Date Published: October 11, 2018

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Tina Petric, Claudia Kiferle, Pierdomenico Perata, Silvia Gonzali, Hernâni Gerós.


Shelf life is the time a product can be stored without losing its qualitative characteristics. It represents one of the most critical quality traits for food products, particularly for fleshy fruits, including tomatoes. Tomatoes’ shelf life is usually shortened due to fast over-ripening caused by several different factors, among which changes in temperature, respiration and pathogen exposure. Although tomatoes usually do not contain anthocyanins, varieties enriched in these antioxidant compounds have been recently developed. The anthocyanin-rich tomatoes have been shown to possess a significantly extended shelf life by delayed over-ripening and reduction of the susceptibility to certain pathogens. In the present work, we compared different conditions of postharvest storage of anthocyanin-rich tomato fruits with the aim to understand if the added value represented by the presence of the anthocyanins in the fruit peel can be affected in postharvest. For this purpose we used an anthocyanin-enriched tomato line derived from conventional breeding and took into consideration different light and temperature conditions, known to affect fruit physiology during postharvest as well as anthocyanin production. Several quality traits related to the fruit ripening were measured, including anthocyanin and carotenoid content, pH, titratable acidity and total soluble solids. In this way we identified that the most suitable fruit storage and postharvest anthocyanin accumulation were obtained through exposure to cool temperature (12° C), particularly in the presence of light. Under these parameters, tomato fruits showed increased anthocyanin content and unchanged flavour-related features up to three weeks after harvesting.

Partial Text

Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) is the second most cultivated and one of the most consumed vegetables worldwide [1]. It also represents an important model for fleshy fruit ripening [2]. Shelf life is the time between production and consumption of a product during which it can be stored without losing its satisfactory quality and safeness. It represents one of the most critical quality traits for fleshy fruits, and can be affected by different factors such as exposure to unsuitable temperature and humidity or to pathogens, which can promote over-ripening. Fast over-ripening leads to reduced shelf life and therefore represents a relevant challenge for the tomato industry [3, 4].

The establishment of protocols that can extend the shelf life of horticultural produce without affecting their quality traits is of great economical importance, given the scale of fruit and vegetable losses worldwide, mostly occurring in postharvest [42]. Many efforts have been undertaken to understand and improve storage conditions of many fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes [43–47]. However, only a few studies were performed dealing with this aspect in anthocyanin-rich tomatoes. Studies were performed using high-anthocyanin transgenic tomatoes [4, 11] or naturally derived anthocyanin-rich fruits but focusing on single storage parameters [10, 23].




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