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Food Res Int. 2017 Nov;101:274-279. doi: 10.1016/j.foodres.2017.08.019. Epub 2017 Aug 14.

Physiological effects and mode of action of ZnO nanoparticles against postharvest fungal contaminants.

Author information

1
Department of Food Studies and Environmental Health, Faculty of Health Science, University of Malta, Malta; Centre for Molecular Medicine and Biobanking, University of Malta, Malta.
2
Metamaterials Unit, Faculty of Science, University of Malta, Malta. Electronic address: ruben.gatt@um.edu.mt.
3
Department of Food Studies and Environmental Health, Faculty of Health Science, University of Malta, Malta; Centre for Molecular Medicine and Biobanking, University of Malta, Malta. Electronic address: vasilis.valdramidis@um.edu.mt.

Abstract

Increasing concerns continue to be expressed about health hazards and environmental pollution resulting from the use of conventional fungicides for postharvest disease control. Nanoparticles represent an alternative solution for postharvest disease management. The objective of this work was to assess the physiological effects and the antifungal efficiency of ZnO nanoparticles (ZnO NPs) against a number of fungal contaminants. The efficacy of ZnO NPs was qualitatively and quantitatively assessed against: Penicillium expansum, Alternaria alternata, Botrytis cinerea and Rhizopus stolonifer. Mycelium growth diameters were measured onto Potato Dextrose Agar (PDA) plates loaded with different ZnO NPs concentrations (from 0mM to 15mM). Hereafter, the rate of the fungal diameter increase was quantified by linear regression modelling. Microscopic analysis was performed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) images of agar plugs excised from plates with 0mM and 12mM ZnO. All the fungi were inhibited by ZnO NPs at concentrations higher than 6mM. SEM images showed clear morphological aberrations in the fungal structures of all the isolates grown in presence of ZnO. Additionally, knowing that the chelating agent EDTA sequesters metal ions, it was added to fungal inoculated PDA plates with ZnO to study the NPs' mode of action. Cultures where ZnO was mixed with EDTA showed a decrease in the antifungal effect of the nanoparticles. In conclusion, ZnO NPs are therefore a good candidate as an effective postharvest disease control antifungal agent.

KEYWORDS:

Electron microscopy; Fungi; Fungicides; Nanoparticles; Postharvest; ZnO

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