The goals of postharvest research and extension are to maintain quality and safety and minimize losses of horticultural crops and their products between production and consumption. Reduction of postharvest losses increases food availability to the growing human population, decreases the area needed for production, and conserves natural resources. Strategies for loss prevention include use of genotypes that have longer postharvest life, use of an integrated crop management system that results in good keeping quality, and use of proper postharvest handling systems that maintain quality and safety of the products. Thus, most horticulturists are involved to some extent in some aspects of postharvest horticulture, at least as consumers desiring fruit and vegetables with good flavor and nutritional quality and ornamentals with attractive appearance and long postproduction life. Most accomplishments of postharvest horticulture have resulted from interdisciplinary, collaborative efforts among horticulturists and other plant biologists working with food scientists and engineers, marketing economists, consumer scientists, and other researchers and extensionists. Interactions among postharvest horticulturists and their colleagues from other disciplines are facilitated through the American Society for Horticul-tural Science (ASHS) Postharvest Working Group and the International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS) Commission on Quality and Postharvest Horticulture. Also, many postharvest horticulturists participate regularly in ISHS International Postharvest Conferences, the Gordon Research Conferences on Postharvest Physiology, and the International Controlled Atmosphere Research Conferences, which have been held every 4 years since 1969. The Australasian Postharvest Conferences are held every 2 years in Australia or New Zealand. Results of postharvest research have been published in ASHS journals beginning with volume 9 of the Proceedings of the American Society for Horticultural Science published in 1913, as well as in a wide range of plant science, food science and technology, agricultural engineering, and other journals. A specialized abstracting journal titled Postharvest News and Information was initi-ated in 1990 and has been published bimonthly by CAB International. In 1991, Elsveir Science Ltd. initiated the journal Postharvest Biology and Technology, which has grown steadily (under the leadership of G.E. Hobson, R.P. Cavalieri, and I.B. Ferguson) in its ranking among journals and in frequency of publication to a monthly schedule in 2003. Published information covers the continuum from postharvest biology to technology of a broad range of horticultural crops and their products. When ASHS celebrated its 75th anniversary in 1978, Professor Don Dewey, Michigan State University, reviewed the accomplishments of postharvest horticulture since 1903 under the title "Three Remarkable Generations of Postharvest Horticulture" (Dewey, 1979). Interest in post-harvest horticulture within ASHS began early and expanded quickly as evidenced by the number of papers focused on postharvest physiology and quality that were published in the ASHS Proceedings. He reviewed the history of identifying ethylene as a gas that influences plant growth and development, fruit ripening, and senescence of harvested plant organs. He predicted correctly that "there seems little doubt but that ethylene will play a major role in our future work and publications." He also identified postharvest disorders (physiological and pathological) as an important research area that received much attention from postharvest horticul-turists between 1903 and 1978. Identifying preharvest and postharvest factors that influence incidence and severity of physiological disorders remained an active research area during the past 25 years (Ferguson et al., 1999; Hodges, 2003). Important discoveries have concerned the nature of chilling injury (Saltveit, 2000; Wang, 1990), the control of storage scald on apple, the cause of bent-neck in cut roses, and the role of calcium (Bangerth, 1979) or other elements in tomato blossom-end rot, tipburn in lettuce, and flesh breakdown in apple. However, in most cases the underlying molecular and physiological causes are yet to be discovered. Dewey (1979) concluded his presentation by challenging horticulturists to make postharvest research a more sophisticated and far reaching science than it was in 1978. In this presentation I will pro-vide a brief review of developments in postharvest horticulture during the past 25 years which represent the fourth remarkable generation of postharvest horticulture. POSTHARVEST BIOLOGY Together, Kidd and Westʼs discovery of the climacteric and Blackmanʼs monumental studies of respiration in apples established the basis of mod-ern postharvest physiology (Laties, 1995). Professor Jacob Biale and his students contributed greatly to the development of postharvest physiology research during the 1950s, 1960s, and beyond. Romani (1991), in an ex-cellent feature article published in HortScience, provided his perspective on postharvest physiology and biochemistry during 4 decades (1950 to 1989) and future outlook for the 1990s. He concluded that "whatever its future directions, research in postharvest physiology and biochemistry promises to be an increasingly well-delineated field of scientific inquiry." Sharples (1990), King and OʼDonoghue (1995), and Mattoo and Handa (2001) presented their perspectives of postharvest biology research. Saltveit et al. (1998) reviewed the history of the discovery of ethylene as a plant growth substance, the identification of 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC) as the precursor of ethylene by Adams and Yang (1979) and Lürssen et al. (1979), and the recognition of ACC synthase and ACC oxidase as key enzymes of ethylene biosynthesis. They con-cluded that "while great advances had been made with the traditional techniques of physiology and biochemistry, further elucidation of ethylene biosynthesis and action hinged on using the modern techniques of mo-lecular biology and genetic engineering." Breakthroughs in understanding ethylene signal transduction came from pursuing a genetic approach in Arabidopsis thaliana (Bleeker, 1999). A family of ETR1-like receptors interact with CTR1 to express ethylene response pathways while ethylene binding inhibits this activity. A summary of factors that influence ethylene biosynthesis and action is presented in Fig. 1. Molecular and genetic analysis of fruit development, and especially ripening of fleshy fruit, has resulted in significant gains in knowledge over recent years about ethylene biosynthesis and response, cell wall metabolism, and environmental factors that impact ripening (Grierson, 1987; Seymour et al., 1993; Giovannoni, 2001). The isolation of fruit ripening-related genes has resulted not only in tools for studying the direct effects of specific gene products on ripening but also in opportunities to isolate and study gene regulatory elements that may illuminate regulatory mechanisms (Giovannoni, 2001). Biotechnology is a tool that can be used, in an interdisciplinary ap-proach, to address some of the concerns about quality attributes and Fig. 1. A summary of factors that influence ethylene biosynthesis and action (courtesy of Bruno Defilippi).