Anatomical and Histochemical Factors Associated with Bronzing Development in Strawberry Fruit

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 Department of Pomology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616-8683

Bronzing of strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa Duchesne) fruit that is not the result of arthropod feeding or chemical spray application occurs frequently in California's central coast strawberry production region from late spring through midsummer, a period characterized by relatively high temperature, low relative humidity, and high solar irradiance. The cause of this phenomenon is not known, but in preliminary trials, intermittent, midday misting of plants and increased drip irrigation rate resulted in reduced incidence of fruit bronzing. To characterize the bronzing phenomenon and its development in strawberry fruit tissues, we conducted an anatomical and histochemical examination of bronzed fruit. Bronzed and nonbronzed fruit were sampled over a range of fruit maturities. Results show that bronzing derives from a lesion at the cortical surface early in the fruit's development. Epidermal cells become radially compressed and the cell contents coalesce into a densely staining mass. The cuticular layer becomes disrupted and discontinuous. As the fruit develops, densely staining materials, possibly phenolic precipitates, accumulate within subepidermal cells of bronzed fruit, subepidermal cell walls thicken, and intercellular spaces fill with pectic substances and other densely staining materials. Results are consistent with reports of sunscald injury from other fruit species, and raise the possibility that strawberry bronzing occurs in response to heat or solar radiation injury.

Contributor Notes

Professor and corresponding author; e-mail vspolito@ucdavis.edu.
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