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Dynamic controlled atmosphere (DCA): Does fluorescence reflect physiology in storage?

Postharvest Biology and Technology
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.postharvbio.2011.09.015
  • Chlorophyll Fluorescence
  • Dynamic Controlled Atmosphere
  • Lower Oxygen Limit
  • Pulse Frequency Modulation
  • Violaxanthin
  • Xanthophyll Cycle
  • Zeaxanthin
  • Biology
  • Chemistry


Abstract A link between the minimum fluorescence ( F o) and a metabolic shift from predominantly aerobic to fermentative metabolism [i.e. the lower oxygen limit (LOL)] is the foundation of dynamic controlled atmosphere (DCA). Current DCA technology uses pulse frequency modulated (PFM) sensors and employs a range of light intensities and extrapolation to measure F α, an approximation of F o. Like fruit mass, colour, sugar or acid levels, the LOL is inherently variable, even between apples ( Malus domestica) (for example) from a given cultivar and tree or between the sun-exposed and shaded regions of a single fruit. The physiological link between metabolism and fluorescence has not been extensively studied. However, recent work suggests the low-O 2-induced rise in F α results from a shut down of mitochondrial function and a buildup of reductant that leads to an over-reduction of the plastoquinone (PQ) pool and a decrease in photochemical quenching. Hypoxic conditions above the LOL can decrease F α slightly in some species, possibly as a result of zeaxanthin formation and increased non-photochemical quenching. Low-intensity light differentially affects F α depending on the O 2 level: light increases F α when O 2 levels are above the LOL due to light-induced reduction of the oxidized PQ pool, but decreases the elevated F α signal below the LOL as a result of a PSI-driven oxidation of the over-reduced PQ pool. Temperature has a negative, primarily non-physiological correlation with the F α baseline which seems unrelated to the PQ pool redox state. Understanding how O 2 and other factors affect F α may improve the utility and commercial application of DCA.

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