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Light modulation of volatile organic compounds from petunia flowers and select fruits

Colquhoun, Thomas A., Schwieterman, Michael L., Gilbert, Jessica L., Jaworski, Elizabeth A., Langer, Kelly M., Jones, Correy R., Rushing, Gabrielle V., Hunter, Tia M., Olmstead, James, Clark, David G., Folta, Kevin M.
Postharvest biology and technology 2013 v.86 pp. 37-44
Petunia, emissions, far-red light, flavor, flowers, fruits, genes, horticultural crops, light intensity, odors, strawberries, taste, tomatoes, volatile organic compounds, wavelengths
Light intensity, duration, direction, and wavelength are informative to plants. The biochemical circuits that connect specific light wavelengths to expression of specific genes and the metabolic networks they govern have been well defined. However, little emphasis has been placed on how discrete wavelengths of light, alone or in combination, may be applied to manipulate postharvest qualities of high-value horticultural crops. Using narrow-bandwidth LED light we test the hypothesis that discrete light wavelengths can affect the accumulation of volatile compounds known to affect aroma or taste in select flower and fruit products. Volatile benzenoid/phenylpropanoid emission from petunia flowers could be altered with light application. Levels of a key floral volatile, 2-phenylethanol, increased with a red and far-red light treatment. Similar experiments demonstrated that fruit volatile profiles of tomato, strawberry, and blueberry can be manipulated with specific light treatments. These results suggest that compounds affecting sensory qualities of flowers and fruits can be modified by adjustment of ambient light conditions. These findings open new areas of inquiry about how the fragrance and flavor of flowers and fruits may be improved with simple changes in postharvest light conditions.