ATR-FTIR spectroscopy non-destructively detects damage-induced sour rot infection in whole tomato fruit

Skolik, Paul, McAinsh, Martin R. and Martin, Francis L orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-8562-4944 (2019) ATR-FTIR spectroscopy non-destructively detects damage-induced sour rot infection in whole tomato fruit. Planta, 249 (3). pp. 925-939. ISSN 0032-0935

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Main conclusion

ATR-FTIR spectroscopy with subsequent multivariate analysis non-destructively identifies plant–pathogen interactions during disease progression, both directly and indirectly, through alterations in the spectral fingerprint.

Plant–environment interactions are essential to understanding crop biology, optimizing crop use, and minimizing loss to ensure food security. Damage-induced pathogen infection of delicate fruit crops such as tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) are therefore important processes related to crop biology and modern horticulture. Fruit epidermis as a first barrier at the plant–environment interface, is specifically involved in environmental interactions and often shows substantial structural and functional changes in response to unfavourable conditions. Methods available to investigate such systems in their native form, however, are limited by often required and destructive sample preparation, or scarce amounts of molecular level information. To explore biochemical changes and evaluate diagnostic potential for damage-induced pathogen infection of cherry tomato (cv. Piccolo) both directly and indirectly, mid-infrared (MIR) spectroscopy was applied in combination with exploratory multivariate analysis. ATR-FTIR fingerprint spectra (1800–900 cm−1) of healthy, damaged or sour rot-infected tomato fruit were acquired and distinguished using principal component analysis and linear discriminant analysis (PCA–LDA). Main biochemical constituents of healthy tomato fruit epidermis are characterized while multivariate analysis discriminated subtle biochemical changes distinguishing healthy tomato from damaged, early or late sour rot-infected tomato indirectly based solely on changes in the fruit epidermis. Sour rot causing agent Geotrichum candidum was detected directly in vivo and characterized based on spectral features distinct from tomato fruit. Diagnostic potential for indirect pathogen detection based on tomato fruit skin was evaluated using the linear discriminant classifier (PCA–LDC). Exploratory and diagnostic analysis of ATR-FTIR spectra offers biological insights and detection potential for intact plant–pathogen systems as they are found in horticultural industries.

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