Microbiome Response to Hot Water Treatment and Potential Synergy With Biological Control on Stored Apples

Birgit Wassermann, Peter Kusstatscher, Gabriele Berg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Postharvest food decay is one major issue for today’s food loss along the supply chain. Hot water treatment (HWT), a sustainable method to reduce pathogen-induced postharvest fruit decay, has been proven to be effective on a variety of crops. However, the microbiome response to HWT is still unknown, and the role of postharvest microbiota for fruit quality is largely unexplored. To study both, we applied a combined approach of metabarcoding analysis and real time qPCR for microbiome tracking. Overall, HWT was highly effective in reducing rot symptoms on apples under commercial conditions, and induced only slight changes to the fungal microbiota, and insignificantly affected the bacterial community. Pathogen infection, however, significantly decreased the bacterial and fungal diversity, and especially rare taxa were almost eradicated in diseased apples. Here, about 90% of the total fungal community was composed by co-occurring storage pathogens Neofabraea alba and Penicillium expansum. Additionally, the prokaryote to eukaryote ratio, almost balanced in apples before storage, was shifted to 0.6% bacteria and 99.4% fungi in diseased apples, albeit the total bacterial abundance was stable across all samples. Healthy stored apples shared 18 bacterial and 4 fungal taxa that were not found in diseased apples; therefore, defining a health-related postharvest microbiome. In addition, applying a combined approach of HWT and a biological control consortium consisting of Pantoea vagans 14E4, Bacillus amyloliquefaciens 14C9 and Pseudomonas paralactis 6F3, were proven to be efficient in reducing both postharvest pathogens. Our results provide first insights into the microbiome response to HWT, and suggest a combined treatment with biological control agents.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2502
Number of pages12
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 6 Nov 2019


Dive into the research topics of 'Microbiome Response to Hot Water Treatment and Potential Synergy With Biological Control on Stored Apples'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this