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Inhibition of Penicillium digitatum and Citrus Green Mold by Volatile Compounds Produced by Enterobacter cloacae

Po-Sung Chen, Yu-Hsiang Peng, Wen-Chuan Chung, Kuang-Ren Chung, Hung-Chang Huang and Jenn-Wen Huang

Penicillium digitatum causes green mold decay on citrus fruit, resulting in severe economic losses to citrus growers and packers worldwide. The present study is to evaluate the control of citrus green mold by volatiles produced by Enterobacter cloacae. An E. cloacae strain isolated from plant rhizospheres was able to produce three volatile organic compounds, which were identified as butyl acetate, phenylethyl alcohol, and 4,5-dimethyl-1-hexene by GC/MS chromatography. The volatile compounds produced by E. cloacae inhibited conidial germination and hyphal elongation of P. digitatum and reduced green mold severity. E. cloacae cultured at temperatures ranging from 16°C to 28°C, at pH values ≤6, or in a substrate carrier (sphagnum moss, vermiculite, or perlite) provided superior control against P. digitatum. A laboratory formulation using E. cloacae and perlite protected citrus fruit from green mold up to 22 days and its effectiveness outperformed fungicide application at room temperature (~25°C). The results implicate practical application of E. cloacae as a biofumigant for controlling citrus postharvest decay caused by P. digitatum. Significantly, the study provides a model for future research on how to formulate an effective biocontrol agent for disease management.