Chitin and chitosan are aminoglucopyranans composed of N-acetyl-D-glucosamine (GlcNAc) and glucosamine (GlcN) residues and are renewable resources currently being studied by academic and industrial groups owing to their attractive properties and biological activities. Chitosans have been indicated for the preservation of foods, juices and other material from microbial deterioration due their action against different groups of microorganisms, such as bacteria, yeast and fungi. Studies on coating of fruits and vegetables and defensive plant mechanism studies have been described in the literature. There is a worldwide trend to explore new alternatives that can control postharvest pathogenic diseases, giving priority to methods that reduce disease incidence and avoid negative and side effects on human health as a result of the excessive application of synthetic fungicides. Thus, alternative approaches are necessary to maintain the marketable quality of fresh fruits. The antifungal activities of chitosan and its derivatives in vitro, preharvest and postharvest studies are reviewed in this chapter. The abilities of chitosan and its derivatives to elicit resistance reactions in plants and its action in the production and viability of fungal spores is reported. Finally, the chapter is concluded, with the possible mechanisms, suggested in the literature for the antifungal activity of chitosan.
Part of the book: Fungal Pathogenicity