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Chlorine Concentration and the Inoculation of Tomato Fruit in Packinghouse Dump Tanks

    Authors and Affiliations
    • J. A. Bartz , Plant Pathology Department, University of Florida, Gainesville 32611-0680
    • C. G. Eayre , USDAARS, Water Management Research Laboratory; Parlier, CA
    • M. J. Mahovic
    • D. E. Concelmo , Plant Pathology Department, University of Florida
    • J. K. Brecht
    • S. A. Sargent , Horticultural Sciences Department, University of Florida

      Published Online:

      Chlorine concentrations (pH 6 to 7 and 22 to 27°C) that killed arthrospores (spores) of Geotrichum candidum or sporangioles (spores) of Rhizopus stolonifer, causal agents of sour rot and Rhizopus rot, respectively, in moving water within 30 to 45 s did not prevent these pathogens from inoculating wounded tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum) in a water flume containing chlorine and spores. Free chlorine concentrations of 20 or 25 mg/liter were lethal to spores of G. candidum within 30 s in most in vitro tests, whereas spores of R. stolonifer were slightly less sensitive. Wounded tomatoes placed in a flume with free chlorine at 30 mg/liter and then exposed to spores for 1 min developed about 50% less decay incidence during storage at 24°C for 6 days than did fruit exposed to spores and water alone. In the absence of chlorine, incidence averaged 57% (range, 15 to 95%) for R. stolonifer and 38% (range, 17 to 58%) for G. candidum. Sporadic sour rot lesions were observed among fruit that had been treated with free chlorine at 75 mg/liter, whereas chlorine at up to 180 mg/liter failed to completely protect fruit from Rhizopus rot. A water-soluble dye rapidly penetrated wounds on tomato fruit. The dye framed the outlines of cells at the wound surface and appeared to penetrate into a few intercel-lular spaces. Application of 1% sodium hypochlorite decolorized the dye on the wound surface, whereas deposits located below the wound surface remained blue. Thus, spores suspended in moving water can escape the action of chlorine if carried into intercellular spaces by diffusion or by capillary movement of cell sap and water.