A team of researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology - Guwahati has developed an edible material that, coated on vegetables and fruits, will substantially extend their shelf life. The material was tested on potato, tomato, green chili, strawberry, Khasi mandarin, apple, pineapple, and kiwifruit. It was found to keep these vegetables fresh for nearly two months.
The team used a mix of an extract of a marine micro-alga called Dunaliella tertiolecta and polysaccharides to produce it. The micro-alga is known for its antioxidant properties and has various bioactive compounds such as carotenoids and proteins. It is also used to produce algal oil. After the oil is extracted, the residue is usually discarded.
The researchers used extracts from this residue in formulating their film, in combination with chitosan, which is a carbohydrate. It also has antimicrobial and antifungal properties and can be made into an edible film.