Development of electrospun nano-fibre matrix to extend shelf-life of mango fruit (R. Shanmugapriya)
India contributes 69% of global mango production. However, availability of fruit in India meets only 50% of demand. In order to overcome the problems of post-production losses, several strategies, such as the best harvesting and handling practices, are being promoted. However, the recommended practices are not being adopted because of practical difficulties. This situation requires a simple and practical solution to a challenging problem.
In this context, a team of scientists from six partnering institutes in India, Canada, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Tanzania and Trinidad & Tobago, are involved in the research program "Enhanced preservation of fruits using nanotechnology", which has been funded jointly by Global Affairs Canada (GAC) and International Development Research Center (IDRC) since 2012. The biomolecule hexanal, which is a plant-derived compound possessing the potential to inhibit degrading enzymes (e.g. phospholipase D) in the skin of fruit, has been identified as having potential to extend the shelf-life of fruit. Exogenous application of hexanal formulation as a preharvest spray or postharvest dip was found to minimize postharvest loss of mango fruit. Although the formulation is effective, the active molecule is highly volatile and quickly evaporates. With a view to encapsulate the compound, an electrospinning technique, which is a versatile technology wherein a polymer is subjected to high intensity voltage to convert the solution into a nano-fibre, has been exploited. The nano-fibre was developed using polyvinyl alcohol and cyclodextrin as a sheath and the hexanal as a core. It has the unique advantage of high surface to mass ratio and regulates the release of hexanal vapour. The nano-matrix (Sticker, measuring 5×5 cm) consists of a nano-fibre that has a surface area of up to 10,000 m2 that could be stretched out to several kilometers long. Our estimates suggest that it can hold sufficient hexanal to extend the shelf-life of mango fruit by 2 to 3 weeks. The technology is very simple, cost effective and easily adoptable by packaging industries. The team is in the process of making modifications in the matrices to extend the shelf-life of a wide array of tropical fruit for which postharvest losses are huge.
R. Shanmugapriya won an ISHS student award for the best poster at the IV International Conference on Postharvest and Quality Management of Horticultural Products of Interest for Tropical Regions in Sri Lanka in April 2017.
R. Shanmugapriya , Department of Nano Science & Technology, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore 641 003, India, e-mail: email@example.com
The full article is available in Chronica Horticulturae