Sensors (Basel) 2017 Apr 11;17(4). Epub 2017 Apr 11.
Department of Life Science and Biotechnology, University of Ferrara, Via L. Borsari 46, Ferrara 44121, Italy.
A great interest has recently been focused on lycopene and β-carotene, because of their antioxidant action in the organism. Red-flesh watermelon is one of the main sources of lycopene as the most abundant carotenoid. The use of near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) in post-harvesting has permitted us to rapidly quantify lycopene, β-carotene, and total soluble solids (TSS) on single intact fruits. Watermelons, harvested in 2013-2015, were submitted to near-infrared (NIR) radiation while being transported along a conveyor belt system, stationary and in movement, and at different positions on the belt. Eight hundred spectra from 100 samples were collected as calibration set in the 900-1700 nm interval. Calibration models were performed using partial least squares (PLS) regression on pre-treated spectra (derivatives and SNV) in the ranges 2.65-151.75 mg/kg (lycopene), 0.19-9.39 mg/kg (β-carotene), and 5.3%-13.7% (TSS). External validation was carried out with 35 new samples and on 35 spectra. The PLS models for intact watermelon could predict lycopene with R² = 0.877 and SECV = 15.68 mg/kg, β-carotene with R² = 0.822 and SECV = 0.81 mg/kg, and TSS with R² = 0.836 and SECV = 0.8%. External validation has confirmed predictive ability with R² = 0.805 and RMSEP = 16.19 mg/kg for lycopene, R2 = 0.737 and RMSEP = 0.96 mg/kg for β-carotene, and R² = 0.707 and RMSEP = 1.4% for TSS. The results allow for the market valorization of fruits.