Microbiome approaches provide the key to biologically control postharvest pathogens and storability of fruits and vegetables

FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2020 Jul 1;96(7):fiaa119. doi: 10.1093/femsec/fiaa119.


Microbes play an important role in plants and interact closely with their host starting from sprouting seeds, continuing during growth and after harvest. The discovery of their importance for plant and postharvest health initiated a biotechnological development of various antagonistic bacteria and fungi for disease control. Nevertheless, their application often showed inconsistent effects. Recently, high-throughput sequencing-based techniques including advanced microscopy reveal fruits and vegetables as holobionts. At harvest, all fruits and vegetables harbor a highly abundant and specific microbiota including beneficial, pathogenic and spoilage microorganisms. Especially, a high microbial diversity and resilient microbial networks were shown to be linked to fruit and vegetable health, while diseased products showed severe dysbiosis. Field and postharvest handling of fruits and vegetables was shown to affect the indigenous microbiome and therefore has a substantial impact on the storability of fruits and vegetables. Microbiome tracking can be implemented as a new tool to evaluate and assess all postharvest processes and contribute to fruit and vegetable health. Here, we summarize current research advancements in the emerging field of postharvest microbiomes and elaborate its importance. The generated knowledge provides profound insights into postharvest microbiome dynamics and sets a new basis for targeted, microbiome-driven and sustainable control strategies.

Keywords: biocontrol; biopreservation; fruit microbiome; high-throughput sequencing; postharvest decay.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Fruit
  • Fungi
  • Microbiota*
  • Vegetables*