BACKGROUND:Minimally processed water bamboo shoot (WBS) lignifies and deteriorates rapidly at room temperature, which limits greatly its marketability. This study was to investigate the effect of modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) on the sensory quality index, lignin formation, production of radical oxygen species (ROS) and activities of scavenging enzymes, membrane integrity and energy status of minimally processed WBS when packaged with or without the sealed low-density polyethylene (LDPE) bags, and then stored at 20°C for 9 days or 2°C for 60 days. RESULTS:The sensory quality of minimally processed WBS decreased quickly after 6 days of storage at 20°C. Low temperature storage maintained a higher sensory quality index within the first 30 days, but exhibited higher contents of lignin and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) as compared with non-MAP shoots at 20°C. Combined MAP and low temperature storage not only maintained good sensory quality after 30 days, but also reduced significantly the increases in lignin content, superoxide anion (O2.-) production rate, H2O2 content and membrane permeability, maintained high activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT) and ascorbate peroxidase (APX), and reduced the increase in activities of lipase, phospholipase D (PLD) and lipoxygenase (LOX). Furthermore, the minimally processed WBS under MAP condition exhibited higher energy charge (EC) and lower adenosine monophosphate (AMP) content by the end of storage (60 days) at 2°C than those without MAP or stored for 9 days at 20°C. CONCLUSION:These results indicated that MAP in combination with low temperature storage reduced lignification of minimally processed WBS, which was closely associated with maintenance of energy status and enhanced activities of antioxidant enzymes, as well as reduced alleviation of membrane damage caused by ROS.