Department of Horticulture - Research Articles

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    Utilizing xanthan gum coatings as probiotic bacteria carriers to enhance postharvest quality and antioxidants in fresh-cut cantaloupe and honeydew (Cucumis melo L.) melons.
    (MDPI, 2024-03-20) Chikhala, Tshudufhadzo; Seke, Faith; Slabbert, Retha M.; Sultanbawa, Yasmina; Sivakumar, Dharini
    Due to spoilage microflora and browning, minimally processed fresh-cut fruits have a short shelf life, and over the years, studies have shown the potential of using edible coatings to extend the shelf life and improve the safety of fresh-cut fruits. Recently, there has been a rise in research on the incorporation of probiotics in edible coatings due to the bespoke health and bio preservation benefits they impart. Therefore, in this study, lactobacillus strains (Lactiplantibacillus plantarum 75 and Bifidobacterium longum) were incorporated into a xanthan edible coating to enhance color retention, sensory properties, antioxidant retention (ascorbic acid, carotenoids, total phenols), and antioxidant activity (FRAP antioxidant power, ABTS scavenger activity) of fresh-cut cantaloupes and honeydew cucumis melo L. melons during cold storage at 5 C and 85% RH for five days. The edible coating was prepared by mixing 0.5% xanthan gum, 1% glycerol, and 2% citric acid solution with L. plantarum 75 (LAB 75) and Bifidobacterium longum bacteria separately, and the final lab count for each strain was made to be 8.0 log CFU/mL. Stable probiotic coatings with ζ-potential of between −39.7 and −51.4 mV and a PdI of 1 were developed, and the incorporation of the probiotic bacteria into the coating was justified using FTIR analysis. The probiotic coatings showed a typical pseudoplastic behavior, in which the viscosity curves fall as the shear rate increases. Thermal stability analysis showed a continuous and multi-step weight reduction in this work, illustrating how the edible coating components interact. The survival of both Lactobacillus strains was recorded on day 5. Both freshly cut melons coated with xanthan and loaded with Lactobacillus strains retained a sufficient quantity of probiotics at the end of storage, while L. plantarum 75 (7 log CFU/g for cantaloupe and 8 log CFU/g for honeydew) retained the highest viability compared to B. longum (6 log CFU/g for cantaloupe and 7 log CFU/g for honeydew). In comparison to the coated and uncoated control samples, the inclusion of L. plantarum 75 in xanthan coatings significantly retained the color properties, pigments (total chlorophyll and carotenoids), ascorbic acid, total phenols, and antioxidant activity (FRAP, DPPH, and ABTS). The overall acceptability of fresh cuts of cantaloupe and honeydew melons coated with xanthan gum loaded with L. plantarum 75 was higher than that of other treatments. Thus, xanthan gum loaded with L. plantarum 75 coating is most suitable for reducing postharvest losses in fresh cuts of honeydew melons and cantaloupe, which will help preserve antioxidant and bioactive properties. The xanthan gum loaded with L. plantarum 75 coatings exhibited the highest preservation impact; therefore, it can be recommended for the fresh-cut industry.
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    A comparison of bioactive metabolites, antinutrients, and bioactivities of African pumpkin leaves (Momordica balsamina L.) cooked by different culinary techniques.
    (MDPI, 2022-03-15) Mashiane, Petunia; Shoko, Tinotenda; Manhivi, Vimbainashe; Slabbert, Retha M.; Sultanbawa, Yasmina; Sivakumar, Dharini
    Prior to consumption, African pumpkin leaves (Momordica balsamina L.) are generally cooked. In this study, the effects of common household cooking methods (boiling, steaming, microwaving, stir-frying) on bioactive metabolites, carotenoids, antioxidant activity, antinutrients and inhibitory effects on -glucosidase and -amylase activities were examined. A set of 14 bioactive metabolites were identified in raw and cooked African leaves using UPLC-QTOF/MS. The results showed that the four different types of household cooking methods had different effects on the bioactive metabolomics profile of African pumpkin leaves. In comparison to raw leaves and leaves cooked in other methods, the concentrations of six phenolic compounds, rutin, cryptochlorogenic acid (4-caffeoylquinic acid), pseudolaroside A, isorhamnetin 3-O-robinoside, quercetin 3-galactoside, and trans-4-feruloylquinic acid, were highest in stir-fried leaves. Of all household cooking methods tested, stir-frying increased the content of lutein, -carotene, and zeaxanthin by 60.00%, 146.15%, and 123.51%, respectively. Moreover, stir-frying African pumpkin leaves increased the antioxidant activity (DPPH and ABTS) and the inhibition of -glucosidase and -amylase. Compared to all four methods of household cooking, stir-frying reduced the antinutritive compounds compared to raw leaves. This work provides useful information to the consumers on the selection of suitable cooking methods for African pumpkin leaves.
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    In vitro release of anthocyanins from microencapsulated Natal plum (Carissa macrocarpa) phenolic extract in alginate/psyllium mucilage beads.
    (MDPI, 2022-08-23) Seke, Faith; Manhivi, Vimbainashe E.; Slabbert, Retha M.; Sultanbawa, Yasmina; Sivakumar, Dharini
    Natal plum (Carissa macrocarpa) contains anthocyanins, cyanidin 3-O- -sambubioside (Cy-3-Sa), and cyanidin 3-O-glucoside (Cy-3-G) that possess great bioactive properties. During in vitro gastrointestinal digestion, Cy-3-Sa and Cy-3-G are highly sensitive to pH changes and have low bio accessibility rates of 7.9% and 22%, respectively. This study aimed to therefore use microencapsulation techniques to improve the bioa ccessibility of Cy-3-Sa and Cy-3-G. The crude anthocyanin-rich extract was extracted from freeze-dried Natal plum fruit using ultrasonic-assisted ethanol extraction. The anthocyanin-rich extract was encapsulated using the ionic gelation method. Four distinct carrier agents, namely sodium alginate, pectin, xanthan gum and psyllium mucilage were used to form the wall materials. Encapsulation efficiency was highest for alginate/psyllium mucilage beads (93.67%), while alginate showed the least efficiency (86.80%). Scanning Electron Microscopy revealed a cracked and porous structure for the Natal plum extract and a continuous smooth structure for all the beads. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy showed peaks at 3300 and 1610 cm1, confirming the presence of polyphenols and polysaccharides in all beads. Thermal stability was higher for the alginate/psyllium mucilage beads and the observed thermal transitions were due to the bonds formed between the polymers and the polyphenols. Alginate beads combined with xanthan gum, pectin, and psyllium mucilage showed a prolonged release of anthocyanins compared to alginate in vitro alone. The highest anthocyanin bio accessibility was obtained from alginate/psyllium mucilage beads (85.42 1.03%). The results showed the effectiveness of alginate/psyllium mucilage beads in improving stability and in vitro anthocyanin release.