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  • Author or Editor: Fengwang Ma x
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Xanthophyll cycle conversion and the antioxidant system in the peel of apple fruit (Malus ×domestica Borkh. `Liberty') were monitored in the field over a diurnal course at about 3 months after full bloom. Compared with leaves, sun-exposed peel of apple fruit had much lower photosystem II operating efficiency at any given photon flux density (PFD) and a larger xanthophyll cycle pool size on a chlorophyll basis. Zeaxanthin (Z) level increased with rising PFD in the morning, reached the highest level during midday, and then decreased with falling PFD for the rest of the day. At noon, Z accounted for >90% of the xanthophyll cycle pool in the fruit peel compared with only 53% in leaves. Efficiency of excitation transfer to PSII reaction centers (F v′/F m′) was negatively related to the level of Z in fruit peel and leaves throughout the day. In fruit peel, the antioxidant enzymes in the ascorbate-glutathione cycle, ascorbate peroxidase (APX), monodehydroascorbate reductase (MDAR), dehydroascorbate reductase (DHAR) and glutathione reductase (GR) showed a diurnal pattern similar to that of incident PFD. In contrast, the activities of APX and GR in leaves did not change significantly during the day although activities of both MDAR and DHAR were higher in the afternoon than in the morning. In both fruit peel and leaves, superoxide dismutase activity did not change significantly during the day; catalase activity showed a diurnal pattern opposite to that of PFD with much lower activity in fruit peel than in leaves. The total ascorbate pool was much smaller in fruit peel than in leaves on an area basis, but the ratio of reduced ascorbate to oxidized ascorbate reached a maximum in the early afternoon in both fruit peel and leaves. The total glutathione pool, reduced glutathione and the ratio of reduced glutathione to oxidized glutathione in both fruit peel and leaves also peaked in the early afternoon. We conclude that the antioxidant system as well as the xanthophyll cycle responds to changing PFD over the course of a day to protect fruit peel from photooxidative damage.

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The objective of this study was to investigate ascorbic acid (AsA) accumulation, mRNA expression of genes involved in AsA biosynthesis as well as recycling, activity of key enzymes, and the relationship of them to AsA levels during the development of apple fruit (Malus ×domestica cv. Gala). AsA concentration, which mainly depends on biosynthesis, was the highest in young fruit post-anthesis and then decreased steadily toward maturation. However, AsA continued to accumulate over time because of the increase in fruit mass. Transcript levels of guanosine diphosphate (GDP)-L-galactose phosphorylase, GDP-mannose pyrophosphorylase, D-galacturonate reductase, and the post-transcriptionally regulated L-galactono-1,4-lactone dehydrogenase were not correlated with AsA accumulation in apple. In contrast, patterns of expression for L-galactose dehydrogenase, L-galactose-1-phosphate phosphatase, and GDP-mannose-3′,5′-epimerase showed a pattern of change similar to that of AsA accumulation. Although activities and expression levels of monodehydroascorbate reductase and dehydroascorbate reductase in fruit, which had less capacity for AsA recycling, were much lower than in leaves, they were not clearly correlated with AsA level during fruit development.

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Osmotic adjustments play a fundamental role in plant responses to water deficit. For apple (Malus domestica) trees growing in the primary production areas of China, drought and low phosphorus (P) levels are the main sources of abiotic stress. Although tolerance to drought and low P are important breeding goals for cultivar improvement, there is little information on natural variation within Malus for these traits or the molecular mechanisms that may mediate tolerance. In this study, it was found that in plants grown under conditions of osmotic and low P stress, electrolyte leakage and photosynthetic parameters were significantly higher, but chlorophyll concentrations were lower compared with nonstressed plants. These physiological indicators revealed that, under low P condition, the order of osmotic stress resistance (high to low) was Malus sieversii (Ms) → Malus prunifolia (Mp) → Malus hupehensis (Mh). Expression of the phosphorus transporter genes PHT1;7, PHT1;12, and PHT2;1 in the roots and PHT1;12 and PHT4;5 in the leaves was positively correlated with plant osmotic resistance. It is proposed that the highly expressed PHT genes might improve P absorption and transport efficiency, resulting in the high osmotic stress resistance under low P level conditions in Malus species.

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