Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Biology (Cell Biology, Microbiology, Molecular Biology)

Major Professor

Cecilia do Nascimento Nunes, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Stanley Stevens, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Vance Whitaker, Ph.D.


abiotic stress, anthocyanins, phenylalanine ammonia-lyase, polyphenol oxidase, polyphenols, strawberry


Plants inherently produce polyphenols (i.e., antioxidants) as a response to reduce oxidative stress caused by abusive environmental pre- and postharvest conditions. These antioxidants, as well as vitamin C, are present in considerable levels in strawberries; however, excessive oxidative stress brought on by improper postharvest handling conditions can reduce the levels of antioxidants in the fruit and shorten the shelf-life of strawberries. Nevertheless, it may be possible to utilize strawberry’s naturally occurring polyphenols to reduce postharvest stress and extend their shelf life. The polyphenolic profile has been previously investigated in several strawberry cultivars, however no studies have determined the unique polyphenolic profiles of three important Florida strawberry cultivars (‘Florida Radiance’, Sweet Sensation® ‘Florida 127’and ‘Florida Beauty’) at harvest and during cold storage. Therefore, in order to better understand the distribution of individual polyphenols within these cultivars and their impact on postharvest shelf-life, this study examined the polyphenolic profiles throughout 7 days of cold storage (1 °C) using an HPLC-DAD. The activity of phenylalanine ammonia lyase (PAL), a key enzyme in the biosynthesis of polyphenols, and polyphenol oxidase (PPO), the enzyme responsible for polyphenol degradation, were also examined during cold storage to understand their possible influences on postharvest synthesis or degradation of polyphenols. This study revealed that the polyphenolic profile of strawberry fruit was genotype dependent; however, pelargonidin 3-glucoside was consistently the anthocyanin found in higher concentrations in the fruit regardless of the cultivar. Apart from the anthocyanins, the flavonols showed the most variation among the three cultivars. PAL was slightly induced during strawberry postharvest storage suggesting that a stress response occurred during cold storage while PPO showed variable induction patterns across all three cultivars most likely due to their different polyphenol profiles. Analysis of the distribution of polyphenols in the cortex and pith of strawberries showed that polyphenols were mostly concentrated in the cortex of the fruit and that the concentration of individual polyphenol in each fruit tissue varied by cultivar. These results indicate that the oxidative stress response varies in each of the strawberry cultivars studied contributing to their unique polyphenolic profile. Results from this study can ultimately help to identify the polyphenols and enzymes related to superior postharvest quality in future studies.

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