Permeabilization of Plant Tissues by Monopolar Pulsed Electric Fields: Effect of Frequency
Article first published online: 8 DEC 2010
© 2010 Institute of Food Technologists®
Journal of Food Science
Volume 76, Issue 1, pages E98–E111, January/February 2011
How to Cite
Asavasanti, S., Ristenpart, W., Stroeve, P. and Barrett, D. M. (2011), Permeabilization of Plant Tissues by Monopolar Pulsed Electric Fields: Effect of Frequency. Journal of Food Science, 76: E98–E111. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2010.01940.x
- Issue published online: 13 JAN 2011
- Article first published online: 8 DEC 2010
- MS 20100702 Submitted 6/23/2010, Accepted 10/7/2010.
- cytoplasmic streaming;
- electrical properties;
- pulse frequency;
- tissue integrity;
- viability staining
Abstract: Pulsed electric fields (PEF) nonthermally induce cell membrane permeabilization and thereby improve dehydration and extraction efficiencies in food plant materials. Effects of electrical field strength and number of pulses on plant tissue integrity have been studied extensively. Two previous studies on the effect of pulse frequency, however, did not provide a clear view: one study suggested no effect of frequency, while the other found a greater impact on tissue integrity at lower frequency. This study establishes the effect of pulse frequency on integrity of onion tissues. Changes in electrical characteristics, ion leakage, texture parameters, and percent weight loss were quantified for a wide range of pulse frequencies under conditions of fixed field strength and pulse number. Optical microscopy and viable-cell staining provided direct visualization of effects on individual cells. The key finding is that lower frequencies (f < 1 Hz) cause more damage to tissue integrity than higher frequencies (f= 1 to 5000 Hz). Intriguingly, the optical microscopy observations demonstrate that the speed of intracellular convective motion (that is, cytoplasmic streaming) following PEF application is strongly correlated with PEF frequency. We provide the first in situ visualization of the intracellular consequence of PEF at different frequencies in a plant tissue. We hypothesize that cytoplasmic streaming plays a significant role in moving conductive ionic species from permeabilized cells to the intercellular space between plant cells, making subsequent pulses more efficacious at sufficiently low frequencies. The results suggest that decreasing the pulse frequency in PEF may minimize the number of pulses needed to achieve a desired amount of permeabilization, thus lowering the total energy consumption.
Practical Application: PEF cause pores to be formed in plant cell membranes, thereby improve moisture removal and potential extraction of desirable components. This study used in situ microscopic evaluation of onion cells, as they were pulsed with electric fields at different frequencies, to determine whether frequency was an important parameter. We illustrate that membranes were more effectively broken at lower frequencies as compared to higher frequencies. Application of this information will allow for improved design of PEF systems for more energy efficient dehydration or extraction of plant tissues.