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I. Lara and M. Vendrell

Endogenous ABA, free and conjugated ACC concentrations, ethylene-forming capacity (EFC), and presence of ACC oxidase (ACO) and ACC synthase (ACS) proteins were monitored during the preharvest maturation period of `Granny Smith' apple fruit (Malus sylvestris L. Mill. var. domestica (Borkh.) Mansf. `Granny Smith'). Total proteins from peel and pulp tissues were also extracted at different maturity stages and separated by sodium dodecyl sulphate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, providing evidence of differential protein accumulation during fruit development. Endogenous ABA concentration in the peel tissue was higher than in pulp, the highest level occurring ≈2 months before commercial harvest. In the pulp tissue, concomitant increases in ACC and ABA concentrations were observed, preceded by a peak in EFC. However, no ACO or ripening-related ACS proteins were detectable throughout the period considered, suggesting that very low levels of both enzymes are present during the preclimacteric stage of `Granny Smith' apples. A hypothesis on the possible interaction between ABA and ethylene during maturation of `Granny Smith' apples is proposed. Chemical names used: abscisic acid (ABA); 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC).

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I. Lara and M. Vendrell

ABA and ethylene treatments were applied to preclimacteric `Granny Smith' apples [Malus sylvestris (L.) Mill. var. domestica (Borkh.) Mansf.] harvested at three different maturity stages. Ethylene production rates, ethylene-forming capacity (EFC), free and conjugated ACC contents, presence of ACC oxidase (ACO) and ripening-related ACC synthase (ACS) proteins, and endogenous ABA levels were monitored at harvest and during 3 weeks thereafter. ABA treatment resulted in a specific accumulation of ACO protein and of ACS-related polypeptides in fruit collected ≈2 months before commercial harvest, whereas the same tissues showed no response to exogenous ethylene. In contrast, fruit harvested 1 month later proved more sensitive to ethylene but not to ABA, in accordance with evolution of endogenous ABA levels, which were highest at this maturity stage and were enhanced in response to exogenous ethylene. A possible role for ABA as an inductor of the competency to ripen is discussed. Chemical names used: abscisic acid (ABA); 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC).

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C. Larrigaudiere, E. Pinto, and M. Vendrell

The differential effects of two color improving products, ethephon an ethylene-releasing compound, and seniphos, a nonethylene-releasing product, were studied on `Starking Delicious' apples (Malus domestica Borkh L.). Ethephon and seniphos were applied 2 or 3 weeks before commercial harvest. Ethephon- and seniphos-treated fruit showed a significant improvement of peel color associated with a sharp increase in anthocyanin content and chromaticity values. Color improvement in ethephon-treated apples occurred during the preharvest period and cold storage. The seniphos-treated fruit stopped color development in cold conditions. In comparison to the ethephon-treated fruit, the seniphos-treated apples showed lower internal ethylene concentrations and a ripening delay. Both treatments sharply increased the activity of phenylalanine-ammonia-lyase enzyme, which seemed to be the determining factor of color enhancement. The seniphos-treated apples compared to ethephon had higher fruit firmness and lower soluble solids concentrations. Anthocyanin biosynthesis may be enhanced by seniphos treatment without inducing ethylene production or other ripening associated changes. As a consequence, fruit treated with seniphos can be held longer in storage.

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I. Iglesias, J. Graell, G. Echeverría, and M. Vendrell

The influence of supplemental sprinkler irrigation on fruit color of `Oregon Spur Delicious' (Trumdor) apples (Malu×domestica Borkh.) was evaluated in the area of Lleida (NE Spain) over a 3-year period. Cooling irrigation was applied for 2 hours daily for 25-30 days preceding the harvest. Three treatments were evaluated: 1) control without overtree sprinkler irrigation; 2) sprinkler irrigation applied at midday; and 3) sprinkler irrigation applied at sunset. Fruit color was significantly affected by the cooling irrigation and also by the weather of the particular year. Increased red color and higher anthocyanin content resulted from sprinkler irrigation, especially when applied at sunset. At harvest, anthocyanin content was correlated with a*/b* and hue angle, suggesting that the colorimeter measurements could provide a nondestructive estimate of anthocyanin content.

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C. Olivella, C. Biel, R. Savé, and M. Vendrell

The effects of flooding (3 days) and recovery (3 days) on leaf gas exchange parameters (stomatal conductance, net photosynthetic assimilation rate, and leaf transpiration rate) were studied in five, 1-year-old gerbera (Gerbera jamesonii Bolus) cultivars under greenhouse conditions. Flooding reduced the measured parameters in all cultivars, which had not recovered 3 days after flooding ceased. A more detailed study was conducted with the `Beauty' cultivar, in which leaf water potential (Ψw); root hydraulic resistance (Rh); and hormonal concentrations of ABA, IAA, and CK were measured in leaves and roots. Plants were flooded for 2 days, then allowed to recover for 4 days. After 2 days of flooding, Ψw had decreased and Rh had increased. Leaf ABA content increased and IAA and CK content decreased from the start of flooding and did not change during recovery. In roots a transient increase in root ABA levels occurred during flooding and a sharp decrease was measured during recovery, which was related to root death. Similar patterns were observed in root CK concentrations. The IAA concentration in roots remained constant throughout the experiment. The results suggest that ABA and CK may act as signals of flooding stress. Also, the marked intolerance of gerbera to flooding could be a serious barrier to its culture under anaerobic conditions, and hence careful irrigation management is required. Chemical names used: abscisic acid (ABA); indoleacetic acid (IAA); cytokinin (CK).