Plasma membrane (PM) from hypodermal-mesocarp tissues of muskmelon fruits (Cucumismelo L. var. reticulatus Naud.) were compared to the electrolyte leakage changes of the same tissue during maturation and storage at 4 or 24C. During fruit maturity and storage, leakage of the hypodermal-mesocarp tissue increased, which is coincident with increased total sterol: total phospholipid ratios and increased phospholipid fatty acid saturation index of the PM. ATPase activity, a marker for the PM, indicated that the PM increased in buoyant density from 1.13 g.cm-3 to 1.14 g.cm-3 during maturity and ATPase activity peaked with fruit maturation. ATPase activity decreased with 10 days postharvest storage and was less at 24C vs. 4C, which was coincident with increased hypodermal-mesocarp electrolyte leakage. Biochemical changes within the sterol and phospholipid matrix of the PM are suggested to contain the processes capable of altering fruit membrane permeability and subsequent muskmelon fruit storage life.
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