Mature-green tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) fruit, when kept for 3 days at 36, 38, or 40C before being kept at 2C for 3 weeks, did not develop chilling injury, while unheated fruit placed at 2C immediately after harvest did. When removed from 2 to 20C, the heated tomatoes had lower levels of K+ leakage and a higher phospholipid content than unheated fruit. Sterol levels were similar in heated and unheated fruit while malonaldehyde concentration was higher in heated fruit at transfer to 20C. The unheated tomatoes remained green, and brown areas developed under the peel; their rate of CO2 evolution was high and decreased sharply, while ethylene evolution was low and increased at 20C. In contrast, the heat-treated tomatoes ripened normally although more slowly than freshly harvested tomatoes: color developed normally, chlorophyll disappeared, and lycopene content increased, CO2, and ethylene evolution increased to a climacteric peak and K+ leakage increased with time. During prestorage heating, heat-stress ethylene production was inhibited, protein synthesis was depressed, and heat-shock proteins accumulated. There appears to be a relationship between the “heat shock response” and the protection of tomato fruit from low-temperature injury.
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