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Variation in the impact of stem scar and cuticle on water loss in highbush blueberry fruit argue for the use of water permeance as a selection criterion in breeding

Moggia, Claudia, Beaudry, Randolph M., Retamales, Jorge B., Lobos, Gustavo A.
Postharvest biology and technology 2017 v.132 pp. 88-96
Vaccinium corymbosum, breeding, firmness, fruit quality, germplasm, storage time, surface area, temperature, transpiration, Chile
The role of fruit scar on water loss from fresh harvested, fully blue highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) fruit was studied on three germplasm lines from each of three half-sib families at University of Talca, Chile. The stem scar of half of the harvested fruit was sealed using nail polish and weight loss of sealed and non-sealed fruit determined daily at 20°C (5 d storage) and bi-weekly at 0°C (15 d storage). Fruit firmness was determined at the end of the storage period. The stem scar accounted for approximately 40% of the moisture lost at 20°C, but percentages varied considerably between lines. While the stem scar covered 0.19% to 0.74% of the fruit surface area, its rate of transpiration was 170-times higher than for the cuticle at 20°C. The larger the fruit scar area, the greater was the absolute rate of water loss, but scar size scar did not affect the rate of weight loss expressed on a per gram fruit basis. Higher levels of water loss were associated with a greater loss in firmness; fruit having a large scar had a greater rate of water loss and were less firm than those having medium or small scars. The water permeance of the fruit cuticle varied two-fold and the apparent permeance of the scar varied three-fold among the 9 lines evaluated when held at 20°C. Interestingly, one line exhibited a 75% lower rate of water loss from its stem scar than the other lines than would be predicted based on its scar diameter. Storage at 0°C reduced the rate of water loss by 90% but the cuticle permeance was not affected by temperature. Sealing the stem scar increased fruit firmness retention at 0°C and 20°C, but provided less benefit at 0°C vs. 20°C. The highly variable nature of water loss through the stem scar and the cuticle in this study suggests that large gains in reductions in water loss are possible for the highbush blueberry once the mechanisms for transpiration are better understood.