Shrimp Shell Extract Fights Fungus in Strawberries After Harvest

Jenn Hoskins
16th April, 2024

Shrimp Shell Extract Fights Fungus in Strawberries After Harvest

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Researchers at Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University found shrimp shell waste-derived chitosan can preserve strawberries
  • Chitosan showed strong antifungal properties, inhibiting common spoilage fungi growth by up to 92.70%
  • This natural preservative could reduce food waste and offer an eco-friendly alternative to synthetic chemicals
In the realm of food preservation, the battle against fungal decay in fruits such as strawberries is a persistent challenge. The demand for natural and sustainable methods to extend the shelf life of these perishable goods has led to innovative research. A recent study conducted by scientists at Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University has made significant strides in this area, focusing on the use of chitosan derived from shrimp shell waste as an antifungal agent[1]. Strawberries are particularly vulnerable to fungal decay, which not only reduces their market value but also contributes to food waste. Traditional methods of preservation often rely on synthetic chemicals, which can be harmful to consumers and the environment. As a result, there has been a shift towards exploring natural alternatives. The study in question has zeroed in on chitosan, a biopolymer known for its antibacterial and antioxidant properties[2]. Chitosan is derived from chitin, which is found in the exoskeletons of crustaceans such as shrimp. The researchers have tapped into this resource, transforming waste into a valuable tool for food preservation. To understand the effectiveness of chitosan, the team evaluated its physicochemical characteristics, such as the degree of deacetylation (DD), molecular weight (Mw), and solubility. These factors are crucial as they determine the polymer's ability to interact with fungal cells. The chitosan exhibited a high degree of deacetylation (83.50%) and a molecular weight of 180 kDa, with good solubility (80.10%), indicating strong potential as an antifungal agent. Using advanced techniques like Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), X-ray diffraction (XRD), and scanning electron microscopy (SEM), the researchers could delve into the functional characteristics of the chitosan. These analyses revealed a fibrous and porous structure, which is beneficial for its antifungal activity. The antifungal properties of the chitosan were tested against common spoilage fungi, including Aspergillus niger, Botrytis cinerea, Fusarium oxysporum, and Rhizopus stolonifer. The results were promising, with chitosan at a 3% concentration inhibiting mycelial growth by up to 92.70% and spore germination by up to 71.48%. This dose-dependent response underscores chitosan's potential as a natural preservative. The findings of this study are particularly relevant when considering previous research on the susceptibility of strawberries to fungal decay. Essential oils (EOs) from plants such as Thymus vulgaris (Th) and Mentha longifolia (Me) have been shown to inhibit the growth of Botrytis cinerea[3]. However, the use of chitosan offers a different approach, utilizing a waste product and providing a broader spectrum of antifungal activity. Furthermore, the challenges of managing anthracnose diseases in strawberries, caused by Colletotrichum spp., highlight the need for effective and sustainable preservation methods[4]. While essential oils and nano-emulsions have shown potential in controlling these diseases, chitosan's ability to inhibit a range of fungi could offer a more comprehensive solution. The significance of this study lies not only in its immediate application to strawberry preservation but also in its broader implications for the food industry. Chitosan's natural origin and impressive antifungal properties position it as a frontrunner in the search for sustainable food preservation techniques. It represents a shift towards utilizing biopolymers that are not only effective but also environmentally friendly. In conclusion, the research from Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University has demonstrated that chitosan extracted from shrimp shell waste holds great promise as a natural antifungal agent for the preservation of strawberries. By inhibiting the growth and spore germination of spoilage fungi, chitosan could play a crucial role in reducing post-harvest losses and extending the shelf life of this popular fruit. This study not only contributes to the field of food science but also embodies a move towards more sustainable and eco-friendly practices in the industry.

AgricultureBiotechPlant Science


Main Study

1) Antifungal efficacy of chitosan extracted from shrimp shell on strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa) postharvest spoilage fungi.

Published 15th April, 2024

Related Studies

2) Application of functionalized chitosan in food: A review.

3) Efficiency of nanoemulsion of essential oils to control Botrytis cinerea on strawberry surface and prolong fruit shelf life.

4) New Insights in the Detection and Management of Anthracnose Diseases in Strawberries.

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