537 Use of Lysophoshatidylethanolamine (LPE), a Natural Lipid, to Prevent Damaging Effects of Ethephon on Tomato Plants

in HortScience
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  • 1 Department of Horticulture, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706

Ethephon [2-(chloroethyl) phoshonic acid] is used widely to maximize the yield of ripe tomato fruit. However, ethephon causes rapid and extensive defoliation, overripening, and promotes sunscald damage to the fruit. Recent studies from our laboratory have provided evidence that lysophoshatidylethanolamine (LPE) can reduce leaf senescence. We investigated the potential use of LPE to reduce damaging effect of ethephon on tomato foliage. Three-month-old tomato plants (variety Mountain Spring) grown in greenhouse conditions were sprayed with 200 ppm LPE (with 3% ethanol) at 6 and 24 h before ethephon treatment. After 8 days, plants treated with ethephon alone showed about 80% foliar damage while plant treated with LPE before ethephon treatment showed about 25% foliar damage. In a parallel study, LPE together with ethephon was found to maintain three to four times greater chlorophyll content in the leaves compared to ethephon alone. Treatments of LPE did not reduce the fruit ripening response by ethephon. Both sources of LPE were effective in preventing damaging effects of ethephon on the foliage. These results suggest that LPE treatments 6 and 24 h before ethephon application can prevent damaging effects of ethephon on foliage while allowing the acceleration of fruit ripening.