Liposome-encapsulated citral was prepared by means of a hot homogenization method. The microstructure, particle size, and zeta potential of the capsules were analyzed by transmission electron microscope and dynamic light scattering, respectively, in which the results showed a good dispersion stability of the citral-loaded liposome. In vitro tests showed that liposome-encapsulated citral significantly (P < 0.05) reduced the populations of Escherichia coli, Bacillus subtilis, Staphylococcus aureus, and Penicillium italicum more than free citral. In vivo tests conducted on fresh Shatangju mandarin showed that liposome-encapsulated citral-treated fruit exhibited a decay incidence of 56.67%, which is 42.04% lower than free citral-treated fruit (97.78%) after 26 days of storage at 25°C and 60 to 70% relative humidity. Additionally, fruit treated with citral-loaded liposome significantly reduced weight loss and viable yeast and mold during storage. In summary, liposome-encapsulated citral could be an effective antimicrobial agent to extend the shelf life of the Shatangju mandarin.

  • Liposome-encapsulated citral with good dispersion stability was prepared.

  • Liposome-encapsulated citral showed better antimicrobial activity than free citral.

  • Decay incidence of mandarin was reduced notably by liposome-encapsulated citral.

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