Changes in soluble sugar and starch reserves in avocado (Persea americana Mill. on `Duke 7' rootstock) fruit were followed during growth and development and during low temperature storage and ripening. During the period of rapid fruit size expansion, soluble sugars accounted for most of the increase in fruit tissue biomass (peel: 17% to 22%, flesh: 40% to 44%, seed: 32% to 41% of the dry weight). More than half of the fruit total soluble sugars (TSS) was comprised of the seven carbon (C7) heptose sugar, D-mannoheptulose, and its polyol form, perseitol, with the balance being accounted for by the more common hexose sugars, glucose and fructose. Sugar content in the flesh tissues declined sharply as oil accumulation commenced. TSS declines in the seed were accompanied by a large accumulation of starch (≈30% of the dry weight). During postharvest storage at 1 or 5 °C, TSS in peel and flesh tissues declined slowly over the storage period. Substantial decreases in TSS, and especially in the C7 sugars, was observed in peel and flesh tissues during fruit ripening. These results suggest that the C7 sugars play an important role, not only in metabolic processes associated with fruit development, but also in respiratory processes associated with postharvest physiology and fruit ripening.
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