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Involvement of ethylene in color changes and carotenoid biosynthesis in loquat fruit (Eriobotrya japonica Lindl. cv. Algerie)

Alos, E., Martinez-Fuentes, A., Reig, C., Mesejo, C., Zacarías, L., Agustí, M., Rodrigo, M.J.
Postharvest biology and technology 2019 v.149 pp. 129-138
1-methylcyclopropene, Eriobotrya japonica, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, biosynthesis, color, developmental stages, enzymes, ethylene, fruit peels, fruit pulp, fruits, gene expression, gene expression regulation, genes, loquats, pigmentation, ripening, tissues, transcription (genetics), violaxanthin
In loquat (Eriobotrya japonica Lindl cv. Algerie) fruit, despite the non-climacteric ripening behaviour, evidence suggest that ethylene may participate in the regulation of several ripening- and postharvest-related processes. Color changes and carotenoid profile were analyzed in fruit at three developmental stages (breaker, yellow and colored fruits). At early stages, the fruit peel contained phytoene, phytofluene and other typical chloroplastic carotenoids that decreased during ripening, to accumulate β-carotene, violaxanthin and β-cryptoxanthin in mature fruits. In the pulp, carotenoid concentration increased during ripening to become predominant phytoene, followed by β-carotene and β-cryptoxanthin. Expression of the carotenoid biosynthetic genes (PSY, PDS, ZDS, CYCB and BCH) was downregulated in the peel during maturation, but increased in the pulp with the exception of BCH. The involvement of ethylene in the regulation of pigmentation was further evaluated by treating fruits at the three ripening stages with ethylene or its action inhibitor 1-MCP. At breaker fruit, ethylene accelerated and 1-MCP delayed fruit coloration, but the effect was progressively lost as fruit matured. Ethylene and 1-MCP produced different changes in carotenoids content and gene expression in peel and pulp. Application of ethylene enhanced β-carotene content in both tissues whereas β-cryptoxanthin was only stimulated in the pulp. 1-MCP suppressed these changes in carotenoid composition in the pulp but had little effect in the peel. A differential transcriptional level the pulp was more responsive to downregulated gene expression than the peel. Collectively, results indicate that: 1) ethylene is involved in the regulation of pigmentation and carotenoid biosynthesis in loquat fruits, 2) a differential regulation of carotenoid biosynthesis and response to ethylene appear to operate in the peel and the pulp, and 3) β-carotene hydroxylase (BCH) is a key step in the regulation of carotenoid content and composition in both tissues of loquat fruit.