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  • Author or Editor: Ilaria Mignani x
  • Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science x
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Apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) trees are often affected by a severe June fruit drop, which is often correlated with competition phenomena involving fruit nutrition. This research was initiated to determine if June drop in `Gloster'/M.9 apple could be correlated with a diminished nutrient availability in developing seeds and fruit. During the test period [30 to 62 days after full bloom (AFB)], the fruit that abscised had a diameter similar to that reached by persisting fruit 13 days earlier. Biochemical parameters related to nutritional status of fruit were measured when an abscission peak occurred 38 days AFB. Persisting fruit (control) and abscised fruit were compared along with fruit that abscise 13 days later. The cortex tissue obtained from the two kinds of abscised fruit showed a higher level of soluble reducing sugars and sucrose and a lower content of K+, acid hydrolyzable polysaccharides, and protein compared to the control. Further, the Ca2+ content was higher in abscised fruit than in controls of the same age, whereas there was no difference when fruit of the same size were compared. Total amino acid level was similar in control and abscised fruit at the same age, but there was a lower amino acid level in abscised fruit of the same size. Histological analysis of cortex tissue indicated that abscised fruit have larger cells with less evident nuclei and thinner cell walls than controls. Compared to control fruit, abscised fruit showed the same average number of seeds and a severe inhibition of seed growth; seeds from both kinds of abscised fruit had the same or higher levels of the parameters measured. No positive correlations were observed between fruit abscission and nutrient content of seeds or fruit.

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‘Big Top’ nectarine [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] has appreciable keeping quality because it resembles, at ripening, the stony hard (SH) peach (P. persica) in firmness and crispness but melts at a slow speed at full ripening. We have characterized the postharvest behavior of ‘Big Top’ fruit, treated or not with ethylene for 5 days after harvest (DAH), and compared it with that of a SH peach (‘Ghiaccio’). Pp-ACS1 expression, ethylene evolution, endo-polygalacturonase (endo-PG) production, and softening were evaluated and compared with those of the physiologically ripe melting flesh (M) cultivar Bolero. Like ‘Bolero’, ‘Big Top’ fruit expressed Pp-ACS1 and evolved ethylene but with a 5-day delay. Pp-endo-PG expression, production of an active endo-PG, and fruit melting showed a parallel behavior; ethylene treatment enhanced all these features. In SH ‘Ghiaccio’ Pp-ACS1 expression, ethylene evolution, endo-PG production, and softening were absent during the first 5 DAH in air. ‘Ghiaccio’ neither expressed Pp-ACS1 nor evolved ethylene even after ethylene treatment but responded by accumulating Pp-endo-PG transcripts and an active endo-PG protein, with flesh melting. A ‘Big Top’ Pp-endo-PG clone showed several single nucleotide (SNP) and insertion-deletion (InDel) polymorphisms in comparison with the M Pp-endo-PG clone of ‘Bolero’ and substantial similarity with the Pp-endo-PG clone of ‘Ghiaccio’. In ‘Big Top’, we identified a peculiar SNP (bp 348) and InDels shared with ‘Ghiaccio’, possibly suitable for discriminating among different genotypes. Overall, the data confirm the pivotal role of ethylene in the regulation of endo-PG production and in the determination of peach flesh texture and support the evidence that ‘Big Top’ could be classified as a melting (slow-melting) phenotype.

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