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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2705

Senior Research Officer and ITI scientist becomes the best presenter

Sunil C. Perera - Reporting from Colombo

Colombo, 02 May, ( Ms. Ilmi Hewajulige, Senior Research Officer attached to the Food Technology division of the ITI won the ‘Best Presenter’ award at the Food Science and Nutrition session of the 18th Annual Congress of the Postgraduate Institute of Agriculture.

In her award winning presentation she described a method to use chitosan, chitin extracted from prawn waste, to extend the shelf life of papaya.

Papaya (Carica papaya L.) is one of the four most popular fruits in Sri Lanka and also has a huge potential to be exported. Postharvest diseases cause massive postharvest losses of papaya during storage and transportation. Anthracnose is one of the postharvest diseases of papaya, which is caused by the fungus, Colletotrichum gloeosporioides.

There are several conventional methods to control it such as application of fungicide, hot-water-dip treatment and hotwater-dip treatment in combination with fungicides. However,these methods have many negative effects. Resistance development to the fungicides is one such effect. Developing an effective alternative to control the fungi is thus an urgent need.

Chitin in prawn and crab shells can be converted to chitosan through a chemical process. Chitosan is the second most abundant naturally available, easily degradable bipolymer. It forms a semi permeable film, which modifies the internal atmosphere of the fruit and reduces the loss of moisture. It also induces a defense mechanism by delaying the ripening process and lowering the respiration rate.

Chitosan is reported to be an anti-fungal agent. These film forming and biochemical properties make chitosan an ideal preservative coating for fresh fruits and vegetables. First the effect of different concentrations of chitosan on mycelial growth and spore germination of the fungi were determined. Then the effect of chitosan on papaya inoculated with C. gloeosporioides was evaluated.

In this way, it was proved that chitosan has the ability to curb the damage done by the fungi on papaya. To assure the quality of the fruit does not affected, physicochemical parameters and overall quality of papaya treated with chitosan was determined.

Finally a taste panel results further proved the high quality of chitosan treated papaya and concluded that chitaosan will be a sound alternative for papaya exporters.

- Asian Tribune -

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