Refrigeration decreases the aroma of bananas

Bananas are one of the most popular fruits in the world. However, storing them before their arrival on market shelves can negatively affect their taste and smell. According to a study that appeared in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry of the ACS, the cold temperatures suppress the activity of the proteins that play a key role in the formation of different banana aromas.

This discovery could lead to improvements in the fruit's fragrance and flavor.

Billions of bananas are devoured around the world every year. A typical American eats about 11 pounds of this fruit annually, according to the US Department of Agriculture. Most bananas are grown abroad, which means that they must be shipped in refrigerated containers to reach the coasts of the United States in good conditions. Even though refrigerating them delays the fruit's ripening process, it can also damage the fruit and attenuate its aroma.

Previously, the researchers had discovered that certain proteins, called transcription factors (TF), which help regulate the activity of certain genes, are involved in the fruit's ripening process. Based on this work, Jian-fei Kuang and his colleagues wanted to find out if a particular set of TF plays a role in the damping of aromas in refrigerated or chilled bananas.

The scientists stored freshly harvested green bananas at cold and room temperatures. Once removed from storage, the cooled bananas matured more slowly than those stored at room temperature, and had an unpleasant taste. In a series of experiments, the research team discovered that refrigeration decreased the activity of flavor-forming genes during maturation. They also detected a pair of TF called MabZIP4 and MabZIP5 that seem to play an important role in the activation of these genes. The researchers concluded that a better understanding of this regulatory process could lead to strategies to improve the bananas' aroma.


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