Texture softening of pickled cucumbers does not meet consumers’ quality expectations and leads to economic losses. The factor(s) triggering this phenomenon is still unknown. We investigated the importance of plant viruses such as Cucumber green mottle mosaic tobamovirus
(CGMMV) and Zucchini yellow mosaic potyvirus
(ZYMV) in the context of softening of pickles. Cucumber plants (Cucumis sativus
) were infected by mechanical inoculation, grown under greenhouse conditions and tested positive for the viral infection by ELISA. The severity of virus infection was reflected in yield and symptom expression. Histological and morphological alterations were observed. All fruits were pasteurized, separately stored in jars and subjected to texture measurements after four, six and 12 months. CGMMV-infections were asymptomatic or caused mild symptoms on leaves and fruit, and texture quality was comparable to control. At the same time, fruits of ZYMV-infected plants showed severe symptoms like deformations and discoloration, as well as a reduction in firmness and crunchiness after pasteurization. In addition, histological alterations were detected in such fruits, possibly causing textural changes. We conclude that plant viruses could have a considerable influence on the firmness and crunchiness of pickled cucumbers after pasteurization. It is possible that the severity of symptom expression has an influence on texture properties.
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