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  • Author or Editor: Gloria López-Gálvez x
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Gloria Lopez-Galvez, Mikal Saltveit and Marita Cantwel

Phenylalanine ammonia-lyase (PAL) activity in iceberg lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) is increased in response to several kinds of stress, including wounding, exposure to ethylene, and fungal infection. Ethylene-induced PAL activity is correlated with the discoloration and shelf-life of fresh cut lettuce (Couture et al. 1993. HortScience 28:723). The objective of this research was to further characterize the kinetics of wound-induced PAL in fresh cut lettuce. Leaves of different cvs were cut into salad pieces (1.5 × 3 cm), rinsed in chlorinated water, centrifuged manually, and placed into containers at 5 or 15C through which humidified air flowed. Samples were evaluated for overall visual quality and specific types of discoloration. Midrib tissue was also finely cut (1 × 0.5 cm) for enhanced wound-induction of PAL, which was assayed spectrophotometrically. The kinetics of PAL in midrib tissue of fine cut and salad cut lettuce were similar, with maximum activities obtained within 12-16 h at 15C and within 40-60 h at 5C. Maximum PAL levels in the fine cut lettuce were 1.5-2.0 times those observed in the salad cut pieces, and similar to those induced by ethylene. The usefulness of PAL as a predictor of the storage life of fresh cut lettuce depends on simplifying and expediting the PAL assay.

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Galen Peiser, Gloria López-Gálvez, Marita Cantwell and Mikal E. Saltveit

Russet spotting is a physiological disorder of lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) caused by exposure to hormonal levels (<1 μL·L-1) of ethylene in air at ≈5 °C. Enhanced phenolic metabolism and the accumulation of phenolic compounds accompany the appearance of brown, oval lesions on the leaf midrib. Phenylalanine ammonia-lyase (PAL) is the first committed enzyme in the phenylpropanoid pathway. Three inhibitors of PAL activity [2-aminoindan-2-phosphonic acid (AIP), α-aminooxyacetic acid (AOA), and α-aminooxi-β-phenylpropionic acid (AOPP)] greatly reduced the accumulation of phenolic compounds and browning of lesions. At a concentration of 50 μm, AIP inhibited the formation of chlorogenic and dicaffeoyl tartaric acids in cut midribs of iceberg lettuce by 92% and 98%, respectively. AIP competitively inhibited PAL activity from a lettuce midrib homogenate with an apparent Ki of 22 nm. While the formation of phenolic compounds was strongly inhibited by AIP, the number of lesions associated with russet spotting was not affected. Only the color of the lesions was affected by AIP. In control midribs the russet spotting lesions were brown while those in the AIP-treated midribs were initially olive green and after 3 to 7 days these lesions turned the characteristic brown color. No tyrosine ammonia-lyase activity was detected in a homogenate of lettuce midrib tissue. These results indicate that the early development of russet spotting lesions is independent of the increase in PAL activity and phenolic compounds rather than an effect of these increases as previously suggested. However, accumulation of phenolic compounds does contribute to the subsequent browning symptoms indicative of russet spotting.

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Ma. Teresa Lafuente, Gloria López-Gálvez, Marita Cantwell and Shang Fa Yang

Ethylene-induced formation of isocoumarin was characterized in relation to ethylene-enhanced respiration in whole or cut carrots (Daucus carota L.). Ethylene concentrations (0.1 to 5 ppm) and temperatures (1 to 15C) that increased respiration also favored a more rapid formation of isocoumarin (8-hydroxy-3-methyl-6-methoxy-3,4-dihydro-isocoumarin). Exposing mature carrots to 0.5 ppm C2H4 for 14 days at 1 or 5C resulted in isocoumarin contents of 20 and 40 mg/100 g peel, respectively. These levels were easily detected as a bitter flavor in the intact carrot roots. Immature carrots formed higher levels of isocoumarin than mature carrots; 180 mg/100 g peel were detected in young carrots stored 14 days at 5C in air containing 0.5 ppm C2H4. Freshly harvested carrots exposed to 5 ppm C2H4 accumulated 4-fold higher isocoumarin levels than those formed by carrots stored 30 days at 5C before exposure to C2H4. An atmosphere of 100% O2 potentiated the effect of C2H4 on isocoumarin formation, resulting in a 5-fold increase over that found in carrots treated with C2H4 in air. A storage atmosphere of 0.5 ppm C2H4 in 1% O2 resulted in isocoumarin levels about one-half those attained in 0.5 ppm C2H4 in air. Sliced, cut, or dropped carrots exposed to C2H4 showed greater isocoumarin accumulation rates than intact uninjured carrots. Peeled baby carrots, however, had little capacity to form isocoumarin. In general, the more rapid the respiratory rise in response to C2H4, the more rapidly isocoumarin accumulated. The greater the respiratory response to ethylene, the higher the level of isocoumarin formed.