Polar lipids were extracted from immature through overripe `Honey Dew' muskmelons (Cucumis melo L.) that were exposed to high or low levels of solar radiation. Fatty acid composition of the polar lipids changed and the percentage of unsaturated fatty acids increased as fruit ripened. The percentage of monounsaturated fatty acids palmitoleic and oleic acid as a percent of total fatty acids increased from 8% in melons of minimum maturity to >50% in overripe melons. Also, the ratio of unsaturated to saturated fatty acids increased from 2.2 to 5.0. Total polar lipid fatty acid compostion from middle mesocarp tissue (flesh) did not change as much during ripening as the polar lipid composition from the epidermis (peel). Peel tissue from the top of melons relative to the ground had unsaturation ratios of C18 fatty acids and C16 fatty acids 33% and 62% greater, respectively, than peel from the bottom of the melon. Melons of minimum maturity exposed to solar radiation had significantly more unsaturated C18 fatty acids than shaded melons. Increase in the percentage of unsaturated polar lipid fatty acids in `Honey Dew' melons may relate to increases in chilling tolerance reported to occur with ripening and solar exposure.
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