How 1-MCP prevents ripening and wilting:
Plant cells possess copper-containing ethylene binding sites called ethylene receptors. (An ethylene receptor is a protein that sits in the cell membrane and has a site for binding ethylene on the outside of the cell.) When ethylene comes into contact with the receptor, it binds chemically with the copper, which inactivates the receptor. The inactivation results in the cell breaking down, which, in turn, initiates aging and the death of plant tissues.
1-MCP works by beating ethylene to the receptors. By binding with a sufficient number of receptors chemically and permanently, it forever makes them insensitive to ethylene. The plants do not perceive ethylene thereafter, preventing ripening and wilting.
Furthermore, unlike ethylene, 1-MCP does not inactivate the receptors. As a result, the cells do not break down, which prolongs the freshness of flowers and fruit after harvest, extends their shelf life, reduces waste and, ultimately, benefits producers and consumers.
Because 1-MCP is an unstable gas, growers face a challenge in delivering it to fruits and flowers. Commercially, 1-MCP therefore is complexed with alpha-cyclodextrin, a ring-structured biocompatible molecule formed of six linked glucose units, to produce a stable, water-soluble powder.
When the powder is dissolved in water, 1-MCP is released as a vapor that travels through the air, making its way eventually to plants ethylene receptors.
Novel pathway can lead to new products:
In their paper, the researchers show that 1-MCP reacts with copper to give a highly reactive chemical intermediate. Called a carbene, the intermediate will react with essentially any other kind of chemical group in the area.
Very few such intermediates are kno
|Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala|
University of California - Riverside