The CO2 and C2H4 conc in the internal cavity of three melon (Cucumis melo L., var. reticulatus and inodorus Naud.) cultivars was periodically measured in fruit attached to the vine and in fruit harvested 30 days after pollination (DAP). Gas samples were withdrawn through sterile serum stopper sampling ports aseptically installed near the equator of each fruit at ca. 20 DAP. Sampling continued until either 60 DAP or until fruit abscised. Internal CO2 and C2H4 conc increased in harvested fruit as they ripened (i.e., increased percent soluble solids, decreased flesh firmness, characteristic external color change). Fruit allowed to ripen on the vine also exhibited a rise in C2H4, but lacked a ripening associated climacteric rise in respiration, CO2 conc in attached fruit remained constant or declined as the C2H4, conc increased around 40-fold and the fruit ripened. The increase in CO2 conc, so commonly observed in ripening climacteric fruit, was observed in harvested melons, but not in fruit ripening on the vine. In melons, the respiratory climacteric may be an artifact of harvest. Implications of these observations will be discussed.
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