25 Oct 2020

Dynamic controlled atmosphere: an innovative approach to blueberry storage


blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) are highly valued for their health-promoting potential, but are extremely perishable. Controlled atmosphere (CA) strategies reduce the respiratory metabolism of blueberries, slowing down senescence. However, the sudden change of atmosphere may cause abiotic physical stress in the fruit, with negative effects on quality.

The study proposes an innovative approach based on dynamic controlled atmosphere (GCA) to slowly achieve optimal gas storage conditions as an alternative to standard CA.

For two consecutive seasons, blueberries "Duke" was subjected to four different storage conditions:

  • control (air);
  • CA standard (sudden exposure to 5 kPa O2 and 10 kPa CO2 during the experiment);
  • GCA3 and GCA7 (gradually reaching 5 kPa O2 and 10 kPa CO2 over 3 and 7 days, respectively).

The fruit was stored for 28 days at 0 ± 0.5◦C. Real-time respirometry provided an in-depth view of the respiratory response of blueberries to their gaseous environment. The blueberries subjected to graded application of CA treatments (GCA) had a lower steady-state respiration rate compared to control and standard CA fruit. This indicated a reduction in metabolic activity which had a positive impact on quality and shelf life extension.

For example, blueberries GCA3 and GCA7 had a 25% longer shelf life than the control, based on a reduced incidence of decay. In addition, GCA fruit was 27% firmer than control and CA fruit after 28 days of cold storage. GCA3 had a positive effect on the maintenance of individual sugar concentrations throughout the experiment, and both GCA treatments maintained the ascorbic acid content close to initial values compared to a 44% decrease in the control fruit at the end of the experiment.

This work provides a paradigm shift in the way CA can be applied and a better understanding of the physiology of blueberry and post-harvest behaviour.

Access the full study (10 pages, English, 17 March 2020)


  • Natalia Falagán (Plant Science Laboratory, Cranfield University, Cranfield, United Kingdom)
  • Tiana Miclo (Plant Science Laboratory, Cranfield University, Cranfield, United Kingdom)
  • Leon A. Terry (Plant Science Laboratory, Cranfield University, Cranfield, United Kingdom)

Source: Blueberries Consulting
Blueberries Consulting is part of the global network of Italian Berry

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