Mexican scientists discover yeast antidote to citrus mold
Instituto Politécnico Nacional (IPN) researchers, at the Center for Biotechnology Genomics, experimented on lemons using yeast to inhibit the spores of green mold, penicillium digitatum fungus, a principal decomposition agent of produce in stores.
Dr Claudia Patricia Larralde Corona explained bacteria and fungi coexist naturally in different citrus varieties emitting spores which penetrate the fruit following micro-injuries through harvesting and transport.
"Fungi are looking to feed on sugars from the fruit and grow up around them. However, this technology uses yeast to compete with the fungi penicillium digitatum, both for nutrients and for space on the fruit, with the yeast gaining control," he was quoted as saying.
He said yeast was easy to grow and once applied on the peel meant mold spores had no chance of entering the fruit.
Larralde Corona said his fungal biocontrol system was an alternative to chemical treatments, which can cause respiratory or neurological disorders, allowing fruit to be accepted more easily in countries with rigorous chemical controls.
It's estimated between 20-70% of Mexico's citrus is lost in storage due to fungal diseases. The country is the fourth largest citrus producer in the world and between the first and second largest grower of Mexican limes.
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