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Carolyn E. Lister, Jane E. Lancaster, and John R.L. Walker

Phenylalanine ammonia-lyase (PAL) activity was measured in a range of New Zealand-grown apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) cultivars at three stages of fruit development. Anthocyanin and total flavonoid levels were also measured (by HPLC) in the same fruit. There was wide variation in the level of PAL activity, anthocyanin and total flavonoid levels in different apple cultivars and at different stages of development. There was no apparent correlation between average PAL activity over the three developmental stages and final anthocyanin concentration (r = 0.34, P > 0.1), but there was significant correlation between average PAL activity over the three developmental stages and the final concentration of total flavonoids (r = 0.75, P < 0.02). An inhibitor, PAL-IS, was also assayed in the same fruit but no correlation was found between PAL-IS and final anthocyanin levels (r = -0.30, P > 0.1) or total flavonoid levels (r = 0.15, P > 0.1). These results suggest that PAL activity has an influence on total flavonoid levels in the fruit but that PAL-IS does not. Anthocyanin levels are likely controlled at a point in the flavonoid pathway other than PAL or PAL-IS.

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Jane E. Lancaster, Julie Farrant, and Martin L. Shaw

Three onion (Allium cepa L.) cultivars, `Southport White Globe', `Grano', and `Pukekohe Longkeeper' were grown at low to high S (at 0.5, 1.8, 3.0 or 4.0 meq·L-1) in hydroponic culture. Differential solvent extractions of bulbs were used to isolate quantitatively cell contents, cell wall proteins, and cell wall residue. The weight of the cell fractions, their S content, and the S content of intact bulbs were determined. Bulb characteristics of fresh weight (FW), firmness, soluble solids concentration (SSC), and soluble sugars were also determined. For all three cultivars, bulb FW increased with S from 0.5 to 4.0 meq·L-1. Sulfur had a significant effect on bulb firmness. Onion bulbs grown with S at 0.5 meq·L-1, the lowest S concentration, were significantly softer than onion bulbs grown at the highest concentration of 4.0 meq·L-1. Varying the S supply had a major effect on dry weight (DW) allocation to the cell wall residue. Bulbs of all three cultivars grown at the lowest S had significantly less DW in the cell walls compared to S at 3.0 or 4.0 meq·L-1. In contrast to the effect of S supply on DW allocation, varying S supply had no effect on total bulb S, free SO4 -2, and on the S content of the cell contents and the cell wall residue and only a minor effect on cell wall proteins. There was no significant effect of S supply on either SSC or soluble sugars. At low S nutrition, which is limiting to the growth of onion bulbs, cell wall deposition is reduced, with a consequent decrease in bulb firmness. The S composition of the cellular components is maintained at the expense of bulb growth.

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Jane E Lancaster, Jan E. Grant, Carolyn E. Lister, and Michael C. Taylor

The biochemical and cytological mechanisms responsible for the differences in red color quality of apples (Malus domestics Borkh.) were investigated. Copigmentation, the increase in absorbance maxima (λ max) from anthocyanin and flavonoid interactions, is known to be a mechanism for producing variation in shade of red in flowers. In intact apple skin cells, the mean λ max was 550 nm, with no significant difference between genotypes. Furthermore, the ratio of flavonols and proanthocyanidins to anthocyanins was similar for all genotypes. Therefore, copigmentation is not a mechanism producing different shades of red in apples. Darkness of red skin was positively related to the proportion of red cells in the skin and the size of the vacuoles containing anthocyanins. Measurements of plastid pigments, chlorophyll, and carotenoids, compared with L*, a*, b* measurements, indicated that the visual blending of plastid pigments and anthocyanins has an important influence on red coloration of apple skin.

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Jane E. Lancaster, Carolyn E. Lister, Peter F. Reay, and Christopher M. Triggs

The color of fruits and vegetables results from the presence of chlorophyll, carotenoid, and anthocyanin pigments. Instrumental measurements of color are used routinely in describing processes of changing color, such as fruit ripening. The applicability of using skin color measurements to predict changes in pigment composition was investigated using a wide range of fruit and vegetables. Skin color was measured using a Hunter Colorlab and represented as the coordinates X, Y, Z, L*, a*, b*, chroma (C*), and hue angle (ho). Identical skin samples were extracted and analyzed for chlorophyll, carotenoid, and anthocyanin concentration. Sets of pairwise scatter plots were generated for each set of color variables and for the chlorophyll, anthocyanin, and carotenoid pigments. There were linear relationships between ho and anthocyanin concentration and between L* and log [chlorophyll concentration]. Multiple regressions for each pigment variable and sets of color variables also were calculated. However, there was no unique linear combination of pigments that gave rise to a unique point in the color space. Conversely, a given set of coordinates in the color space can be accounted for by many combinations of pigments. Therefore, a given color measurement cannot be described in terms of a unique combination of pigments. Caution is urged in interpreting tristimulus color coordinates in terms of a simple change in pigment composition without prior knowledge of the pigment composition within the fruits and vegetables. The surface topography of fruits and vegetables may be of considerable significance in measuring color.

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William M. Randle, Jane E. Lancaster, Martin L. Shaw, Kevin H. Sutton, Rob L. Hay, and Mark L. Bussard

Three onion (Allium cepa L.) cultivars were grown to maturity at five S fertility levels and analyzed for S-alk(en)yl-L-cysteine sulfoxide (ACSO) flavor precursors, γ-glutamyl peptide (γ-GP) intermediates, bulb S, pyruvic acid, and soluble solids content. ACSO concentration and composition changed with S fertility, and the response was cultivar dependent. At S treatments that induced S deficiency symptoms during active bulbing, (+)S-methyl-L-cysteine sulfoxide was the dominant flavor precursor, and the flavor pathway was a strong sink for available S. As S fertility increased to luxuriant levels, trans(+)-S-(1-propenyl)-L-cysteine sulfoxide (PRENCSO) became the dominant ACSO. (+)S-propyl-L-cysteine sulfoxide was found in low concentration relative to total ACSO at all S fertility treatments. With low S fertility, S rapidly was metabolized and low γ-GP concentrations were detected. As S fertility increased, γ-GP increased, especially γ-L-glutamyl-S-(1-propenyl)-L-cysteine sulfoxide, the penultimate compound leading to ACSO synthesis. Nearly 95% of the total bulb S could be accounted for in the measured S compounds at low S fertility. However, at the highest S treatment, only 40 % of the total bulb S could be attributed to the ACSO and γ-GP, indicating that other S compounds were significant S reservoirs in onions. Concentrations of enzymatically produced pyruvic acid (EPY) were most closely related to PRENCSO concentrations. Understanding the dynamics of flavor accumulation in onion and other vegetable Alliums will become increasing important as the food and phytomedicinal industries move toward greater product standardization and characterization.