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A holistic approach for extending availability of litchi fruits in the market: problems and possibilities
- Mir, H., Rani, R., Ahmed, Md. F., Kala, S., Kundu, M.
- Acta horticulturae 2018 no.1211 pp. 113-122
- DNA shuffling, Litchi chinensis, breeding programs, buds, cultivars, dormancy, flowering date, fruit cracking, gene expression regulation, growth inhibitors, hydrochloric acid, industry, metabolism, panicles, pericarp, physicochemical properties, plant hormones, polyethylene, postharvest technology, precooling, pulp, ripening, shade, shelf life, signal transduction, transcriptomics, unigenes, world markets
- Litchi (Litchi chinensis Sonn.) is an important subtropical fruit crop, grown for its sweet-acidic and juicy pulp. In the past few decades the demand of litchi fruits has soared into new heights both in national as well as international markets. However, the availability of fruit has not kept pace with the increased demand, rendering the market unsaturated. This deficit is attributed to the fastidious nature of this crop when it comes to the climatic requirements for growth, brief harvesting period and highly perishable nature of the fruits once harvested. Hence it becomes critical to analyze the factors that can boost litchi industries round the world. Different breeding programs have resulted in the development of cultivars exhibiting early or late bearing tendency that can be exploited to extend the crop availability period. Various approaches, including operations like cincturing, use of growth retardants, induction of dormancy and use of chemicals for inducing flowering are suggested by different workers that can manipulate flowering time in litchi, in turn manipulating the time of production. Postharvest technologies that aim at extending storage life of litchi fruits by reducing postharvest browning of litchi pericarp and preserving other physico-chemical properties of the fruit are being extensively researched. Precooling, treatment of fruits with chemicals like sodium nitropruside (SNP), HCl, SO(2) etc., waxing and use of LDPE for storage of fruits are some of the recommendations for improving shelf life of litchi fruit. Molecular level studies have provided new perspectives for devising measures to combat issues like flower initiation, fruit shading, ripening, fruit cracking and pericarp browning that can provide genetic solutions to these problems. A comparative transcriptomic analysis performed with resting and emerging panicle stage buds, suggested the role of differential expression of unigenes in the metabolism and signal transduction of various phytohormones regulating floral initiation in litchi. This review aims to provide a comprehensive insight into different approaches including cultural activities, postharvest technologies and conventional and molecular breeding that can increase the availability of litchi fruits in terms of time and space and investigate their future implications.