Long-Lasting Freshness

If you bought your partner flowers or fruit for Valentines’ Day, chances are you might want to thank two NC State inventors for their role in keeping these products fresh. Sylvia Blankenship and the late Edward Sisler created 1-MCP, a compound that extends the freshness and shelf-life of fruits, vegetables and flowers.

Considered by some as the most significant advance in technology for fresh fruits and floral products in more than two decades, the compound recently landed Sisler and Blankenship in the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

1-MCP, or 1-methylcyclopropene, works by inhibiting the effects of ethylene, a colorless gas that leads plants to ripen. By doing so, it increases the postharvest life of fruits and vegetables and allows flowers to maintain their appearance longer.

Blankenship attended NC State as both an undergraduate and graduate student before joining the Department of Horticultural Science faculty. Sisler came to NC State for his Ph.D. in plant physiology, then landed a faculty position in the Department of Molecular and Structural Biochemistry.

Blankenship and Sisler began work on 1-MCP in the 1980s. After years of research, the pair patented their invention in 1996. 1-MCP was approved for commercial use by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2002 and hit the markets that same year. 

Now used around the world, the invention has generated more than $25 million for NC State, and it has garnered national acclaim. Find out more about Sisler and Blankenship and their research on the National Inventors Hall of Fame website.

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This post was originally published in College of Agriculture and Life Sciences News.