Skip to Content

Ethylene Activation Of Latent Catalysts As A Detection Strategy To Reducing Food Waste

Food waste is a significant issue that occurs at all levels of the food supply chain and depletes natural resources. The processing and commercial sale of fresh produce contributes to 33% of food waste in the U.S. agricultural system due, in part, to premature ripening. The plant hormone ethylene triggers the ripening process of climacteric fruit. However, premature ripening can result in the degradation and waste of harvested fruits and vegetables before sale or consumption. Therefore, it is necessary to be able to detect ethylene at concentrations that can trigger the ripening process (~10 ppm). To address this challenge, the Michel Lab is investigating ethylene detection methods by activating latent catalysts. Preliminary results suggest that ethylene can react with latent catalysts, whereas other substituted alkenes are blocked by steric interactions. Upon exposure to ethylene the catalyst is activated and increases the kinetics of a cyclization reaction which can be analyzed using fluorimetry. I synthesized new versions of the fluorogenic substrates to modulate the difference in reactivity with latent and activated catalysts. Progress on the synthesis and evaluation of these new substrates will be presented.