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  • 1 Horticultural Crops Quality Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, USW, Beltsville, MD 20705

A previous study of lipids from pericarp tissue of tomato fruit ranging from mature-green to red-ripe showed a large increase in total sterols accompanied by dramatic changes in sterol composition and conjugation with ripening. This study was conducted to determine whether similar changes occur in microsomal membranes derived from tomato fruit pericarp. Acylated steryl glycoside (ASG), the predominant steryl lipid, declined during ripening, with increases in steryl glycoside (SG) and free sterol (FS). Only minor changes in fatty acid composition were associated with the drop in ASG. The stigmasterol:sitosterol ratio increased throughout ripening, but much more in Fs than in SG or ASG. The ratio of FS to phospholipid (PL) increased with ripening. However, FS was never greater than 10 percent of the total membrane sterol (TMS), and TMS:PL actually declined over the middle stages of ripening. It is not known why tomato tissues maintain such high levels of ASG and SG, but sterol conjugation is thought to regulate the physical properties of cell membranes.

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