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Development of nanoencapsulated natural fungicides for postharvest fruit preservation

Grant number: 23/17653-9
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctoral
Effective date (Start): May 01, 2024
Effective date (End): April 30, 2026
Field of knowledge:Agronomical Sciences - Agricultural Engineering - Process Engineering of Agricultural Products
Principal Investigator:Marcos David Ferreira
Grantee:Fernanda Ramalho Procopio
Host Institution: Embrapa Instrumentação Agropecuária. Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária (EMBRAPA). Ministério da Agricultura, Pecuária e Abastecimento (Brasil). São Carlos , SP, Brazil


Climate change has caused severe impacts on agriculture, leading to significant losses in food production and quality. Postharvest activities, such as storage and processing, are also affected, impairing the durability of products and increasing the risk of infestation by pests and diseases. Fresh foods, such as fruits and vegetables, are particularly susceptible to physiological and microbiological changes, which can lead to losses of up to 40% in the supply chain. Agricultural chemicals play an important role in food production and preservation, but excessive use of these compounds has been associated with environmental impacts. In search of more efficient and less environmentally impactful alternatives, using natural antimicrobial agents such as essential oils (EOs) has become a major trend in the agroindustry. However, the low solubility and stability of EOs limit their application. Nanoencapsulation can facilitate the application of these extracts in foods, enhancing their properties and reducing undesirable sensory changes. In this context, the present proposal aims to develop innovative nanoencapsulated systems for the incorporation of essential oils (EOs) with antifungal properties added to plant-based edible coatings, aiming to improve the preservation of postharvest fruits. For this, the essential oils will be incorporated into different nanostructured systems: via inclusion complex in ²-cyclodextrin and through solid lipid nanoparticles. The systems will be characterized in terms of encapsulation efficiency, size, morphology, thermal behavior, crystallinity, and infrared spectroscopy. The kinetics of release of essential oils in simulated food media (water, starch suspension, and carnauba wax nanoemulsion) will also be evaluated through the application of mathematical models. Finally, the antifungal activity of free and nanoencapsulated EOs will be investigated through the direct contact method against common contaminants (Rhizopus stolonifer, Colletotrichum gloeosporioides, and Penicillium expansum) and in fruit preservation. Thus, a sustainable plant-based alternative with antimicrobial action is sought, extending shelf life and providing a safe food without interference in aroma and flavor. (AU)

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