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E.V. Wann

Tissue firmness of ripe tomatoes is controlled by cell wall integrity of the fruit tissue and by the enzymatic softening that normally occurs during ripening. This study was conducted to determine the physical characteristics of cells and tissues of mature green (MG) and ripe fruit that might account for differences in firmness between `Rutgers' (normal), `Flora-Dade' (Firm), and two mutant lines called high-pigment (T4065 hp) and dark-green (T4099 dg), both of which possess extra firm fruit. Fruit samples were tested for resistance to a force applied to whole fruit and to sections of the pericarp tissue and by stress-relaxation analysis. Determinations were also made of cell density and cell wall content within the pericarp tissue. Fruit of mutant lines had firmer tissue than either `Rutgers' or `Flora-Dade' at MG or ripe. Whole fruit compression measurements showed that T4099 dg was firmer than T4065 hp or `Rutgers' at MG and firmer than `Flora-Dade' and `Rutgers' when ripe. Whole fruit of `Flora-Dade' were significantly firmer than `Rutgers' at MG and ripe. Firmness measured by compressive strength also showed that mutant lines had firmer pericarp tissue than the wild types at both MG and ripe stages. Stress-relaxation analysis showed that MG fruit of T4099 dg had greater tissue elasticity than `Rutgers' or `Flora-Dade'. Ripe fruit of both mutant lines had more tissue elasticity than wild types. There were no apparent differences among the genotypes due to tissue relaxation. From these analyses, tissue elasticity appears to be a significant parameter in determining tissue firmness in the tomato genotypes used in this study. Firmness and textural quality of ripe tomatoes appeared to be dependent on elasticity of the pericarp tissue and on the level of enzymatic softening during ripening.

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E. V. Wann and J. E. Staub

Research was conducted to determine the reliability of several techniques for measuring the response of cucumber to low-moisture stress. Low and high moisture stress levels were imposed in field plots by differential irrigation. Plots under low stress (high soil moisture) had a mean tensiometer reading of 9±1.0 cb during the evaluation period, and plots under high stress had a mean tensiometer reading of 37±2.3 cb. Six genotypes of diverse backgrounds were evaluated for their stress response. The drought-tolerant cultivars `Alagi', W142121, and WI1983LL (Little Leaf) showed least response to the imposed stress. Visual ratings and stress index were correlated with moisture stress levels and they detected differences in stress response among cultivars. Plant water content, stomatal conductance, and transpiration rate were least reliable for measuring moisture stress. Visual ratings appeared to be as reliable as the other more quantitative types of measurements for detecting stress tolerance.

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J.K. Collins, P. Perkins-Veazie, E.V. Wann and N. Maness

Supersweet corn with the shrunken-2 gene (sh2) has shown good quality after frozen storage. A study was undertaken to further evaluate the quality of supersweet corn (cv Florida Staysweet) unblanched or blanched then frozen. Samples were evaluated every 4 months for 12 months for peroxidase activity. sugar composition, water soluble polysaccharides and organoleptic qualities. Peroxidese activity changed in unblanched corn at each sampling date, which was consistently higher than in blanched corn. Sucrose and total sugars declined during storage. Sucrose was highest in blenched samples and reducing sugars were highest in unblanched samples. WSP content was low in all samples, but lower in blenched compared to unblanched samples. Taste panelists discerned differences between blanched and unblanched corn at 8 months when blanched samples were rated as more yellow than unblanched. However, no differences were found for taste between blanched and unblanched samples for taste at 12 months. These results indicate that sh2 sweetcorn maintained good eating quality for 12 months of frozen storage with or without blanching.

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J.K. Collins, C. Biles, E.V. Wann and P. Perkins-Veazie

Increased peroxidase activity is used to predict development of off-flavor in frozen sweet corn. However, peroxidase activity was not indicative of flavor changes in frozen supersweet (sh2) or sugar enhanced (sul/se) sweet corn genotypes. These results suggested an inactivation or absence of certain peroxidase isozymes. Frozen `Florida Staysweet' (sh2), `Merit' (sul), and `Bodacious' (sul/se) kernels were cut from cobs after 0 and 12 months of storage. Proteins extracted from acetone powders were separated by isoelectric focusing (IEF) and Native-PAGE. Banding patterns differed according to cultivar and storage duration. All cultivars contained a peroxidase isozyme having a molecular weight of 99 kD and pI of 4.5. The sul/se and su2 cultivars expressed an additional peroxidase band of 17.9 kD. An additional peroxidase isozyme (pI 5.0) appeared after 12 months of storage in the sul cultivar. This isozyme did not appear in sul/se or sh2 and is a possible marker for predicting off-flavor in corn. This isozyme may also catalyze off-flavor reactions in sul corn genotypes. Although changes in total peroxidase activity may not predict flavor loss in all genotypes, certain peroxidase isozymes may be useful in predicting and catalyzing off-flavor reactions in sul corn cultivars.