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  • Author or Editor: Holger Weichert x
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Recent studies established that some ferric salts, including FeCl3, decrease water permeability of the sweet cherry (Prunus avium L.) fruit exocarp and fruit cracking, presumably by a pH-dependent precipitation reaction that blocks high-flux pathways across the fruit surface. The objectives of our study were the following: to establish the effect of receiver pH on penetration of 55FeCl3 through excised exocarp segments (ES) and isolated cuticular membranes (CM) and to localize any Fe precipitates in the epidermal system of mature sweet cherry fruit. Penetration was studied using an infinite dose diffusion system where 55Fe penetrated from donor solutions of ferric salts (10 mm, pH 2.2–2.6) or EDTA-Na-Fe(III) (10 mm, pH 5.0) across an interfacing ES or CM into aqueous receiver solutions of pH values ranging from 2.0 to 6.0. For receiver pH 2.0, 55Fe penetration of the ES from a 10 mm FeCl3 donor (pH 2.6) was linear with time, but for receiver pH ≥ 3.0, penetration was low and insignificant. Increasing the pH of the water receiver from 2.0 to 6.0 in the course of an experiment resulted in an immediate halt of penetration regardless of whether 55Fe penetration occurred from FeCl3 (pH 2.6), Fe(NO3)3 (pH 2.6), or Fe2(SO4)3 (pH 2.4) as donor solutions (all at 10 mm). Only from EDTA-Na-Fe(III) (pH 5.0) 55Fe penetration continued to occur albeit at a decreased rate (−30%). At receiver pH 2.0, the 55FeCl3 flux through stomatous ‘Sam’ ES averaged 10.4 ± 2.3 pmol·m−2·s−1 and was positively correlated to stomatal density. Conventional and analytical electron microscopy (energy dispersive X-ray analysis, electron spectroscopic imaging, and electron energy loss spectroscopy) identified ferric precipitates in periclinal and anticlinal cell walls of epidermal cells underlying the cuticle, but not within the cuticle. These data indicate that the lack of 55Fe penetration from donor solutions of ferric salts through the ES into a receiver solution at pH ≥ 3 and the previously reported decrease in water uptake and cracking as a response to immersing fruit in solutions of ferric salts are the result of a precipitation reaction at the cuticle/cell wall interface in the sweet cherry exocarp. Although spray application of ferric salts is prohibitive for ecotoxicological reasons, understanding their mechanism in decreasing water uptake and fruit cracking may be helpful in the search for alternate compounds that are effective and ecotoxicologically acceptable.

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Water uptake through the exocarp of intact sweet cherry [Prunus avium (L.)] fruit was determined gravimetrically in an immersion assay (25 °C). Fruit with sealed pedicel/fruit juncture were incubated in water during the first interval (0 to 0.75 hour) and in 10 mm salt solutions of selected cations during the second (0.75 to 1.5 hours) and third interval (1.5 to 2.25 hours) of an experiment. Rates of water uptake (F) were calculated for first, second and third intervals (FI, FII and FIII, respectively) and salt effects indexed by the ratios FII/FI and FIII/FI. AgNO3 (FII/FI = 0.65), NaCl (0.70), BaCl2 (0.67), CdCl2 (0.69), CuCl2 (0.42), HgCl2 (0.58), and SrCl2 (0.69), and the salts of trivalent cations AlCl3 (0.50), EuCl3 (0.58), and FeCl3 (0.49), significantly decreased water uptake into mature `Sam' fruit as compared to the water control (0.87). KCl (0.82), NH4Cl (0.85), CaCl2 (0.75), MgCl2 (0.88), MnCl2 (0.81), and ZnCl2 (0.72) had no effect, LiCl (1.00) increased uptake. Similar data were obtained for FIII/FI. The effect of FeCl3 on water uptake was independent of the presence of CaCl2, AlCl3, or CuCl2, as sequential or simultaneous treatment with these salts reduced water uptake to the same extent as with FeCl3 alone. Increasing FeCl3 concentration up to 1 mm decreased uptake, higher concentrations had no further effect. FeCl3 and CaCl2 to a smaller extent decreased water uptake in developing `Regina' sweet cherry fruit (55 to 91 days after full bloom). FeCl3 had no significant effect on water uptake along the pedicel/fruit juncture, but markedly reduced uptake through the exocarp of all cultivars investigated (`Burlat', `Early Rivers', `Hedelfinger', `Knauffs', `Regina', `Sam', `Summit', and `Van'). Effects of CaCl2 on water uptake were limited to `Burlat', `Early Rivers', and `Hedelfinger'. CaCl2 and FeCl3 both decreased fruit cracking, but FeCl3 was more effective. The mode of action of mineral salts in decreasing water uptake and fruit cracking and their potential for field use are discussed.

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