Climacteric Fruit Produce a Diminished Respiratory Climacteric When Ripened on the Plant

in HortScience
Author: M.E. Saltveit1
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  • 1 Mann Laboratory, Dept. of Vegetable Crops, Univ. of California, Davis CA 95616-8631

Respiration (i.e., carbon dioxide production and oxygen consumption) increases as ripening is initiated in a group of harvested fruit called climacteric. This group includes many horticulturally important fruit crops, such as apples, avocados, bananas, melons, peaches, pears, and tomatoes. Other fruit, which includes cherries, citrus, and strawberries, do not exhibit an increase in respiration as they ripen and are called nonclimacteric. Measurements of carbon dioxide production by ripening apples, melons, and tomatoes revealed a well-defined climacteric, but only in harvested fruit. The respiratory climacteric was greatly diminished or absent from these fruit when they ripened while attached to the plant. Fixation of respired carbon dioxide through photosynthesis or into organic acids was insufficient to account for the diminished amount of carbon dioxide evolved from ripening attached climacteric fruit. Unlike the respiratory climacteric, an increase in ethylene production occurred in both attached and harvested climacteric fruit. Ethylene stimulates respiration in most plant tissues. The rapid rise in respiration as soon as attached ripening climacteric fruit were harvested or abscised suggests that an inhibitor of ethylene-stimulated respiration may be translocated from the plant and prevent the climacteric rise in respiration in attached ripening fruit.

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