New Mexican Chile peppers (Capsicum annuum L. `New Mexico 6-4') were harvested at weekly intervals beginning 20 days after flowering (DAF), and were evaluated for ethylene (C2 H4) production, respiration rates, chlorophyll content, degradative enzyme activity (cellulase, polygalacturonase, ß-galactosidase), and fruit firmness. Morphological and physiological changes were most apparent in peppers harvested 54 to 69 DAF. ß-galactosidase activity increased rapidly beginning 54 DAF and reached a peak by 89 DAF. Fruit firmness was highest (36 newtons) at 54 DAF and had decreased significantly by 69 DAF. Carbon dioxide production and chlorophyll content were highest in young pods harvested 20 DAF and decreased steadily thereafter. A climacteric increase of CO, was absent. There were two peaks in C2 H4 production: one associated with rapid fruit growth and the other with color change (61 to 69 DAF). Fruit harvested on the same day but at different developmental stages (green to red) were similar to those observed in fruit harvested over the season for the physiological characteristics tested. Separation of pepper fruit soluble proteins on SDS-PAGE demonstrated increased intensity in protein bands at 27, 35, and 40 kDa and decreased intensity of 51 kDa band as the fruit matured. Several biochemical processes appeared to be enhanced in Chile pepper fruit from 47 to 69 DAF.
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