Lovastatin Inhibits α-Farnesene Synthesis without Affecting Ethylene Production during Fruit Ripening in `Golden Supreme' Apples

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Tree Fruit Research Laboratory, 1104 North Western Avenue, Wenatchee, WA 98801

Lovastatin is a specific hydroxymethylglutaryl coenzyme-A reductase inhibitor in animals and as such, is a potent cholesterol lowering pharmaceutical for human use. Because it has also been shown to inhibit α-farnesene in certain plants, we investigated its effects on ethylene and α-farnesene biosynthesis, volatile production, and fruit color during ripening in `Golden Supreme' apples [Malus sylvestris (L.) Mill. var. domestica (Borkh.) Mansf.]. Immediately after harvest, fruit were dipped in Lovastatin solution for 2 min, allowed to dry, and stored in the dark at 20 °C for 30 days. Internal ethylene at harvest was low (< 0.1 mL·L-1) and α-farnesene was undetectable. Both internal ethylene and α-farnesene increased in nontreated fruit during 30 days storage. Prestorage Lovastatin treatment did not affect ethylene synthesis, but at 1.25 or 2.5 mmol·L-1 nearly eliminated α-farnesene production. At 0.25 mmol·L-1, Lovastatin delayed the increase in α-farnesene production about 12 days and reduced total α-farnesene production by the end of storage compared with controls. When applied to nontreated preclimacteric fruit, ethephon at 1.4 mmol·L-1 increased both internal ethylene concentration and α-farnesene production. In Lovastatin-treated preclimacteric fruit, however, ethephon increased internal ethylene concentration without promoting α-farnesene synthesis. In another trial, after 30 days storage at 0 °C, fruit were treated with 1.25 mmol·L-1 Lovastatin and stored at 20 °C with air circulation for 20 days. These fruit accumulated similar amounts of ethylene as nontreated controls, but α-farnesene production decreased rapidly and was not detectable after 5 days. Treating with ethephon at 1.4 mmol·L-1 increased α-farnesene production in control fruit but not in Lovastatin-treated fruit. Lovastatin treatment did not affect the change in fruit color. Chemical names used: [1S-[1α (R °), 3α, 7β, 8β (2S °, 4S °), 8ab]]-1,2,3,7,8,8α-hexahydro-3,7-dimethyl-8-[2-(tetrahydro-4-hydroxy-6-oxo-2H-pyran-2-yl)ethyl]-1-naphthaienyl 2-methylbutanoate (Lovastatin); 2-chloroethylphosphonic acid (ethephon).

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