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Genetic manipulation of alcohol dehydrogenase levels in ripening tomato fruit affects the balance of some flavor aldehydes and alcohols

Speirs, J., Lee, E., Holt, K., Yong-Duk, K., Scott, N.S., Loveys, B., Schuch, W.
Plant physiology 1998 v.117 no.3 pp. 1047-1058
Solanum lycopersicum var. lycopersicum, ripening, developmental stages, alcohol dehydrogenase, enzyme activity, aldehydes, flavor compounds, alcohols, quantitative analysis, transgenic plants, genes, gene expression, gene transfer, genetic transformation, chemical constituents of plants
Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) plants were transformed with gene constructs containing a tomato alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) cDNA (ADH 2) coupled in a sense orientation with either the constitutive cauliflower mosaic virus 35S promoter or the fruit-specific tomato polygalacturonase promoter. Ripening fruit from plants transformed with the constitutively expressed transgene(s) had a range of ADH activities; some plants had no detectable activity, whereas others had significantly higher ADH activity, up to twice that of controls. Transformed plants with fruit-specific expression of the transgene(s) also displayed a range of enhanced ADH activities in the ripening fruit, but no suppression was observed. Modified ADH levels in the ripening fruit influenced the balance between some of the aldehydes and the corresponding alcohols associated with flavor production. Hexanol and Z-3-hexenol levels were increased in fruit with increased ADH activity and reduced in fruit with low ADH activity. Concentrations of the respective aldehydes were generally unaltered. The phenotypes of modified fruit ADH activity and volatile abundance were transmitted to second-generation plants in accordance with the patterns of inheritance of the transgenes. In a preliminary taste trial, fruit with elevated ADH activity and higher levels of alcohols were identified as having a more intense "ripe fruit" flavor.