2 Yellow passionfruit: General characteristics and by-products usage

Andressa Mara Baseggio and Mário Roberto Maróstica Júnior

Food and Nutrition department; Faculty of Food Engineering; Unicamp, Campinas, Brazil

2.1 Yellow passionfruit (Passiflora edulis var. flavicarpa)

Despite its large distribution in Latin America, the passion fruit commercial species origin goes back to regions of rainforests in South America, comprising countries like Brazil, Paraguay, Peru, Colombia and Northern Argentina. There are more than 500 passion fruit species documented, being granadilla (Passiflora ligularis Sims), gulupa (Passiflora edulis Sims. Fo edulis) and the yellow passion fruit (Passiflora edulis Sims var. flavicarpa Degener) (Corrêa et al., 2016; Wijeratnam, 2016) the most famous and studied ones. The yellow passion fruit is native from Brazil (Meletti, 2011) and some elements about this cultivar will be described in this document.

2.2 Agronomic characteristics

2.2.1 Taxonomy

The passion fruit is the popular name for species of Passiflora genus and the dicotyledonous family Passifloraceae, which includes about 500 different species (Gadioli et al., 2016). Cultivated in almost all of the states of Brazil, the passion fruit is a tropical and subtropical plant, with large genetic variability. The Passiflora edulis Sims f. flavicarpa represents nearly 95% of the total cultivated area of passion fruit in Brazil.

The tree of passion fruit is a climbing plant, with vigorous and continuous growth and green and lobed leaves (Abreu, 2011). The leaves of passion fruit species (Figure 2.1) is recognized due to its anxiolytic properties, being used mainly by the pharmaceutical industry (Miguel et al., 2006).

Passiflora edulis leaves. Source: Wijeratnam (2016)

Figura 2.1: Passiflora edulis leaves. Source: Wijeratnam (2016)

Regarding the fruit characteristics, the yellow passion fruit has more than one format; globose and piriform, with a weight from 44 to 160 g and a diameter of about 6 cm. When ripe, the fruit detaches and falls from the tree. The peel (epicarp) has an intense yellow color in the late stage of ripening, and the pulp (endocarp) presents a yellow-orange color, with a taste both sour and sweet (Figure 2.2). Inside the pulp, the fruit has a lot of black seeds (Abreu, 2011). The white mesocarp, located between the epicarp and the endocarp, presents a high content of carbohydrates, especially pectin (Seixas et al., 2014).

(A): Whole yellow passion fruit; (B; C): Halves of yellow passion fruit: rinds, pulp and seeds. Source: Corrêa et al. (2016)

Figura 2.2: (A): Whole yellow passion fruit; (B; C): Halves of yellow passion fruit: rinds, pulp and seeds. Source: Corrêa et al. (2016)

Parts of yellow passion fruit Source: Viganó e Martinez (2015)

Figura 2.3: Parts of yellow passion fruit Source: Viganó e Martinez (2015)

Something interesting about the flower (Figure 2.4), a hermaphrodite with stigmas placed above the antlers (which makes pollination difficult), is that it was used by Europeans missionaries to convert the native population to Christianism because its exotic beauty was used as an attempt to explain their religious convictions (Wijeratnam, 2016).

Passionfruit species flowers. Source: Cerqueira-Silva et al. (2014)

Figura 2.4: Passionfruit species flowers. Source: Cerqueira-Silva et al. (2014)

2.2.2 Growing conditions

The yellow passion fruit tree is a plant with proper development in tropical and subtropical climate, with an average temperature between 25 and 26ºC (Abreu, 2011). The plant can grow in different types of soil with organic matter and a pH between 5.0 and 6.5. Rainfall is necessary during the year, and it should reach 800 – 1750 mm. In the flowering period, a long time of sunlight exposition is required (Rodríguez-Amaya, 2003).

The method used for passion fruit propagation is through seeds, previously harvested in fruits from selected plants. This seeds should be separated from the mucilage that surrounds them, both by fermentation or by using a pulper and drying. Planting should be performed immediately after seed drying due to the loss of germination capacity over time (Abreu, 2011).

Despite the fact that passion fruit flower is a hermaphrodite, pollination depends from an external agent, this being performed by large bees, such as mamangava. The time for pollination is limited, the opening time for the flower is short: approximately 8 hours/day. The plant starts to produce fruit a year being planted, with a productive life varying from 3 to 5 years (Rodríguez-Amaya, 2003).

About 60-70 days are required for fruit maturation from the moment of pollination. Although more harvesting seasons are possible, especially in tropical regions, (Rodriguez-Amaya, 2003), the peak of yellow passion fruit harvest occurs between November and February in Brazil, the production is categorized as minor tropical fruits, such as lychees and guava (Wijeratnam, 2016).

2.2.3 Pests and diseases

The most common diseases are woodiness (with thickening and hardening of pericarp), the mosaic illness (caused by virus-transmitting aphids) and other diseases with a bacterial or fungal origin (Rodriguez-Amaya, 2003).

In Brazil, the X. axonopodis pv. passiflorae is the only bacteriosis with economic importance in the passion fruit culture. However, fungi diseases caused by Cladosporium spp., Colletotrichum gloeosporioides and Septoria passiflora are known to cause severe problems in seedling production of the adult tree, affecting leaves and fruits (Abreu, 2011).

Fungi control consists of weekly copper-based fungicides application in rainy periods, or biweekly in periods of limited rain (Abreu, 2011).

2.3 Yellow passion fruit by-products

The industrial processing of yellow passion fruit, mainly for concentrate pulp and juice production, generate a considerable waste volume. Rinds and bagasse constitute this residue, that corresponds to 60-70% fruit mass (Viganó e Martinez, 2015). Due to the high content of bioactive compounds, such as phenolic compounds, fatty acids and soluble fiber, the use of by-products for new product obtaining and application in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic or food industry is encouraged (Corrêa et al., 2016).

2.3.1 Yellow passionfruit bagasse

After juice extraction from the yellow passion fruit, the residue found in the pulper is called “bagasse” and is constituted mainly by seeds (Viganó, Aguiar, et al., 2016). Recently, studies have reported composition and by-product recovery with a high added value from yellow passion fruit, as described in table 2.1:

Cuadro 2.1: Composition and application of Passiflora edulis flavicarpa bagasse.
Compound category Main compounds Applications or bioactive properties Reference
Lipid Unsaturated fatty acids, tocopherols and tocotrienols Oil extraction, with high antioxidant capacity (DPPH assay), using SC CO2 method Barrales et al. (2015)
Macronutrient composition and unsaturated fatty acids, tocopherols and tocotrienols Oil extraction, with high antioxidant capacity (DPPH assay), using Soxhlet method Malacrida e Jorge (2012)
Unsaturated fatty acids, tocols and carotenoids Oil extraction, with high antioxidant capacity (ORAC and DPPH assay) using SC CO2. Viganó, Coutinho, et al. (2016)
Volatile compounds (Terpenes, aldehydes, esters, alcohols, hydrocarbons) Oil essential extraction, using cold pressing, with different volatile compounds Leão et al. (2014)
Phenolic compounds Piceatannol and resveratrol. Obtaining of polar extract, with high piceatannol content, able to inhibit melanogenesis and promote collagen synthesis Matsui et al. (2010)
Piceatannol, and resveratrol Suppressive effect of passion fruit extract on IgE production Mizusaki et al. (2017)
Piceatannol and scirpusin B Obtaining a polar extract from defatted passion fruit bagasse, with high antioxidant capacity (FRAP and ORAC assay) using PLE extraction Viganó, Aguiar, et al. (2016)
Insoluble fiber Macronutrient composition and dietary fiber (cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin) Identification of high amounts of dietary fiber in passion fruit seeds, with capacity to slow down amylase activity and absorbing glucose Chau e Huang (2004)

2.3.2 Yellow passionfruit rinds

The yellow passion fruit peel is made of the white mesocarp and yellow epicarp. The mesocarp presents high carbohydrate content, mainly the soluble fiber pectin. Due to this fact, the passion fruit rind is already used for flour formulation (Viganó, Aguiar, et al., 2016), while the yellow epicarp presents a high flavonoid content (Cazarin et al., 2016), what makes this by-product interesting is its use in products with functional appeal. The composition, application and health effects of yellow passion fruit rinds have been studied with some of those results described in table 2.2.

Cuadro 2.2: Table 2.2 Composition, application and bioactive properties of yellow passion fruit rinds.
Compound category Main compounds Applications or bioactive properties Reference
Fiber Dietary soluble and insoluble fiber. Total phenolic compounds Obtention of flour with high antioxidant capacity (DPPH, FRAP and ORAC assays) and fiber content (66g/100g) Cazarin et al. (2014)
Phenolic compounds Flavonoids (Vicenin, vitexin, isovitexin, orientin and isoorientin) Tea made with yellow passion fruit rinds was able to exert anti-inflammatory effects in experimental colitis model. Cazarin et al. (2016)
Fiber Phenolic compounds Dietary soluble and insoluble fiber Flavonoids (isoorientin and isovitexin) An evaluation of powder obtained by mesocarp fractions of yellow passion fruit (albedo) demonstrated high contents of soluble and insoluble fiber as well as high content of isoorientin and isovitexin López-Vargas et al. (2013)
Phenolic compounds Flavonoids (isoorientin, vicenin, orientin, vitexin and isovitexin) Use of pressurized liquid extraction for obtaining extracts rich in flavonoids with high antioxidant capacity (DPPH, FRAP and ORAC assays) Viganó, Brumer, et al. (2016)
Fiber Pectin Pectin extraction of yellow passion fruit peel using different conditions of ultrasound and temperature Freitas De Oliveira et al. (2016)

2.4 Conclusions

The passion fruit is a tropical and subtropical plant found in many countries. However, the yellow passion fruit is native from Brazil, and the Brazilian production of this fruit represents the 95% of world production. A high amount of this production is used for juice and pulp production, generating a significant residual volume after processing.

The use of fruits waste obtained from the industrial process is an environmental-friendly alternative for new product obtention. The yellow passion fruit presents seeds and rinds as residue, which correspond to approximately 60% of the total fruit. However, several studies demonstrated the presence of bioactive compounds in those parts, thus, the employment of extraction techniques is a possibility in order to use this material in high added value products, as essential oil or polar extracts rich in phenolic compounds (which can be used in the pharmaceutical industry, for example), or even the whole rind and seeds could be used for production of flour rich in soluble fiber when they are dry.

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