Preservative Potentials of Ocimum basilicum Essential OilLoaded Chitosan-Alginate Complexes on Tomato Fruits

Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) is a highly perishable fruit, susceptible to microbial spoilage and enzymatic degradation leading to significant post-harvest losses. Rise in the global demand for safe and healthy food with minimal synthetic preservatives has raised the need for natural preservatives. The preservative potential of Basil (Ocimum basilicum) essential oil (BEO) essential oil loaded chitosan- alginate coating on fresh tomato fruits was investigated. Physiological weight loss, browning index, total antioxidant capacity, fungal load, concentration of ascorbic acid, phenolics, lycopene, activities of polyphenol oxidase, peroxidase, and polygalactouronase were assayed after preservation for two weeks. Two hundred and ten fresh ripe tomato fruits were randomized into seven groups A-G. Group G was uncoated while groups A-F were coated with basil essential oil loaded into chitosan, alginate, chitosan-alginate complex, alginate-chitosan complex, alginate alone, and chitosan alone respectively. Compared to the control, the weight loss, browning index, and total microbial count of the fruits were significantly reduced while ascorbic acid concentrations, total phenolic, and total antioxidant capacity were fairly maintained in the coated groups, activities of polyphenol oxidase, peroxidase, and polygalactouronase were significantly reduced throughout the storage period. Meanwhile, lycopene content was significantly elevated by the coatings compared to the control group. The GC/MS analysis of basil oil-loaded chitosan-alginate Complex reveals that it contains 19 compounds with Dodecanoic acid at concentration of (10.33%) with highest peak followed by 1,2,3-propanetriy 1-ester. In conclusion, this study indicates that the biopolymer coatings with basil essential oil are a promising approach in improving postharvest quality of tomato fruits.
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