FAAs, a type of biologically active compounds present in food and beverages, are important for human nutrition and health (Efeyan et al., 2015; Nagao and Yamakado, 2016), and affect the quality of foods including taste, aroma, and color (Kocadağlı et al., 2013). Enhancement of essential amino acids (EAAs) in horticultural plants has recently been emphasized because vegetables are one of the main contributors of EAA in the human diet (Wang et al., 2017). Therefore, enhancement of the FAA profile is important to evaluate the quality of fruit and fruit product (Khan et al., 2018; Silva et al., 2004).
Nutrients regulate plant processes involved in the formation of yield and quality, such as pollination, flowering, tuber initiation, and storage processes in the sink organs (Engels et al., 2012). It has been recognized for decades that mineral nutrients are dispensable to AA synthesis and protein production (Harper and Paulsen, 1969a, 1969b). In higher plant, N is assimilated mainly in mature leaf mesophyll cells and is then used for leaf protein synthesis or exported as AAs or AA precursors to sink tissues via the phloem (Femandes and Rossiello, 1995). The rate of AA export from leaf to phloem is dependent on N nutritional status and AA species per se (Caputo and Barneix, 1997). For example, N is used for synthesis of leaf protein when the supply is low and exported to the phloem when supply is ample, then accumulated in the storage pool when supply is greater than plant demand. Further, glutamic acid (Glu), superior to aspartic acid (Asp), is easily exported to phloem in conditions of low N supply. However, although some sink-related elements, such as genetic attributes and environmental factors, affect the biosynthesis of storage proteins, protein synthesis in storage organs such as seed and fruit is largely dependent on the supply of AAs or AA precursors being transported into the sink from the source in plant (Johansson et al., 2013; Zahedi et al., 2004).
Foliar nutrient diagnosis has been developed and used in crops for decades, targeting to assess plant nutritional status and adjust nutrient management to promote crop productivity (Amundson and Koehler, 1987; Rubio-Covarrubias et al., 2009). Foliar diagnosis is performed in perennial fruit crops such as citrus (Raveh, 2013), litchi (Luo et al., 2019), and others. However, advance assessment of fruit quality by leaf nutrition diagnosis has not been fully studied to date. Field experiments show that AA accumulation in reproductive sink is strongly dependent on leaf N and AA levels (Barneix and Guitman, 1993; Blumenthal et al., 1990; Kano et al., 1999). Therefore, it may be possible to predict FAA composition in fruit by foliar nutrient diagnosis before fruit maturation in fruit crops.
Longan (Dimocarpus longan Lour.), a widely cultivated Sapindaceae fruit in the tropics, is highly appreciated for its succulent, sweet, and unique taste and health-related nutrients (Wall, 2006). In this work, we investigated the relationship between leaf nutrient and fruit FAA profile in longan, with the objective to evaluate fruit quality before fruit maturation via leaf nutrient diagnosis.
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