Abstract: Chitosan coatings, containing or not essential oils (bergamot, thyme and tea tree oil), were applied to oranges (cv. Navel Powell). Antifungal effect was evaluated by applying coatings before and after inoculating the fruit with Penicillium italicum CECT 2294 (105 spores/mL), preventive and curative treatments, respectively. The effect of coatings on the quality parameters (acidity, pH, soluble solids, juice percentage, weight loss, firmness, color parameters, and respiration rate) was controlled for the different oranges samples throughout the cold storage time. Preventive antimicrobial treatments with coatings containing tea tree oil were the most effective with a reduction of the microbial growth (expressed as the percentage of infected samples) of 50%, as compared to the uncoated samples. The coatings did not lead to any relevant changes in the development of the sample quality parameters throughout the cold storage, except for a slightly reduced loss of both weight and firmness when the coatings contained bergamot oil.
Practical Applications: Results of this study are a useful tool for the development of new environmental friendly and healthier commercial applications in the control of the main postharvest fungal decay of citrus fruits.