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Cameron P. Peace, Carlos H. Crisosto, Fredrick A. Bliss, and Thomas M. Gradziel

Candidate gene (CG) analysis can be an efficient approach for identifying genes controlling important traits in fruit production. Three chronological steps have been described for determining candidate genes for a trait—proposing, screening, and validating—and we have applied these to the problem of internal breakdown of peach and nectarine. Internal breakdown (IB), also known as chilling injury, is the collective term for various disorders that occur during prolonged cold storage and/or after subsequent ripening of stone fruit. Symptoms include mealiness, browning, and bleeding. Candidate genes for IB symptoms were proposed based on knowledge of the biochemical or physiological pathways leading to phenotypic expression of the traits. Gene sequences for proposed CGs were obtained primarily from the Genome Database for Rosaceae. Screening the CGs involved identifying polymorphism within a progeny population, relying mainly on simple PCR tests. Several polymorphic CGs were located on a peach linkage map and compared with phenotypic variation for IB susceptibility. A major QTL for mealiness coincided with the Freestone-Melting flesh locus, which itself is likely to be controlled by a CG encoding endopolygalacturonase, an enzyme involved in pectin degradation. Further gene sequences positioned on the consensus linkage map of Prunus by other researchers were co-located with QTLs for IB traits. Validation of the role of identified CGs will require detailed physiological or transgenic studies.

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Hendrik van Gorsel and Adel A. Kader

Internal breakdown (IB) is the limiting factor in the storage and postharvest handling of stone fruits. The symptoms of IB appear when fruits are kept for prolonged periods at temperatures below 10C and include leatheriness, mealiness, browning and bleeding of the flesh, and failure to ripen normally. We investigated the changes in phenolic compounds associated with IB of stone fruits. Twenty-eight phenolic compounds were separated by HPLC. Ten of these components were significantly affected by chilling temperatures. The concentration of six phenols changed in response to ripening after chilling temperatures, parallel to the appearance of IB symptoms. Most phenols showed a concentration gradient from the inside to the outside of the fruit, Comparison between peach cultivars showed characteristic differences in phenol metabolism during ripening. In both cultivars the most predominant phenol, chlorogenic acid, showed little change in concentration during storage. The structure of key phenolic compounds will be determined in order to elucidate the biochemical relationship between the phenols and the related enzymes. In this respect, a method was developed to detect phenylalanine ammonia-lyase (PAL) activity in peach fruit.

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Carlos H. Crisosto, R. Scott Johnson, Gayle M. Crisosto, John Labavich, and David Garner

During the past two seasons, the relationship between fruit ripening “ON” or “OFF” the tree and internal breakdown incidence was studied with `Elegant Lady' and `O'Henry' peach cultivars. Internal breakdown (IB) visual symptom development was delayed in fruit harvested at different physiological maturities and exposed to different “OFF” the tree pre-ripening treatments. As a follow up, different pre-ripening treatments (controlled delayed cooling) were tested for several peach, nectarine, and plum cultivars susceptible to IB. This pre-ripening treatment delayed flesh browning, mealiness, and off-fl avor development after a simulated shipment and retailer handling period for `Flavorcrest', `Elegant Lady', `O'Henry', `Parade', `Fairtime', `Carnival', `Prima Gattie', `Last Chance', `Autumn Gem', `Autumn Lady', and `Autumn Rose' peaches; `Summer Grand' and `September Red' nectarines; and `Fortune' plum. However, decay development may be a problem. Delayed cooling at 20°C must be carried out with fruit protected with fungicide and wax for the shortest possible, but still effective, length of time to limit IB. The temperature and the length of this pre-ripening treatment, and the presence or absence of ethylene during the delayed cooling is cultivar dependent. Thus, specific pre-ripening conditions must be developed for each cultivar.

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George D. Nanos and F. Gordon Mitchell

Storage at 0C of `O'Henry' and `Fairtime' peaches and `Red Jim' and `September Grand' nectarines (Prunus persica L. Batsch) resulted in significantly longer postharvest life than did storage at 5C, due to differences in the development of internal breakdown (IB) symptoms. Conditioning at 20C for 2 days before storage at 0 or 5C generally prolonged the storage life of fruit of these cultivars. The use of elevated CO2 during conditioning helped maintain fruit firmness. Addition of 5% CO2 to air gave the best results in maintaining fruit firmness and freedom from IB symptoms for up to 6 weeks. Reducing the O2 content kept flesh firmness high after storage but did not delay the appearance of IB. Conditioning at 30C using various atmospheres was less effective than conditioning at 20C.

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George D. Nanos and F. Gordon Mitchell

`High-temperature controlled-atmosphere (high CO2/low O2) conditioning was investigated as a possible treatment to delay the incidence of internal breakdown of peaches and nectarines (Prunus persica L. Batsch) during subsequent cold storage. Maintaining an atmosphere of 5% to 15% CO2 added to air or to 1% to 5% O2 while conditioning peaches for 2 days at 20C partially prevented fruit ripening (compared to fruit conditioned in air), as measured by flesh softening and loss of green pigment, while no off-flavors were detected. Conditioning of peaches at 20C for 4 days in air or in air + 20% CO2 was detrimental to fruit quality, as indicated by flesh softening or detection of off-flavors.

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J.G. Luza, R. van Gorsel, V.S. Polito, and A.A. Kader

Fruits of mid- (`O'Henry'), late (`Airtime'), and extra-late-season (`Autumn Gem') peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] cultivars were examined for changes in cell wall structure and cytochemistry that accompany the onset of mealiness and leatheriness of the mesocarp due to chilling injury. The peaches were stored at 10C for up to 18 days or at SC for up to 29 days. Plastic-embedded sections were stained by the Schiff's-periodic acid reaction, Calcofluor white MR2, and Coriphosphine to demonstrate total insoluble carbohydrates, ß-1,4 glucans, and pectins, respectively. Mealiness was characterized by separation of mesocarp parenchyma cells leading to increased intercellular spaces and accumulation of pectic substances in the intercellular matrix. Little structural change was apparent in the cellulosic component of the cell walls of these fruits. In leathery peaches, the mesocarp parenchyma cells collapsed, intercellular space continued to increase, and pectin-positive staining in the intercellular matrix increased greatly. In addition, the component of the cell walls that stained positively for ß-1,4 glucans became thickened relative to freshly harvested or mealy fruit. At the ultrastructural level, dissolution of the middle lamella, cell separation, irregular thickening of the primary wall, and plasmolysis of the mesocarp parenchyma cells were seen as internal breakdown progressed.

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C.H. Crisosto, W.A. Retzlaff, L.E. William, T.M. DeJong, and J.P. Zoffoli

We investigated the effects of three seasonal atmospheric ozone (0,) concentrations on fruit quality, internal breakdown, weight loss, cuticle structure, and ripening characteristics of plum fruit from 3-year-old `Casselman' trees in the 1991 season. Trees were exposed to 12-hour daily mean O3 concentrations of 0.034 [charcoal-filtered air (CFA)], 0.050 [ambient air (AA)], or 0.094 [ambient plus O3 (AA+O)] μl·liter-1 from bloom to leaf-fall (1 Apr. to31 Oct. 1991). Fruit quality and internal breakdown incidence measured at harvest and after 2, 4, and 6 weeks of storage at 0C were not affected by any of the O3 treatments. Following an ethylene (C2H4) preconditioning treatment, the rate of fruit softening, C2H4 production, and CO, evolution was higher for plums harvested from the AA + O than from those grown in CFA. Weight loss of fruit from the AA + O exceeded that of fruit from CFA and AA. Anatomical studies of mature plums indicated differences in wax deposition and cuticle thickness between fruit grown in AA + O, AA, and CFA. Differences in gas permeability, therefore, may explain the difference in the ripening pattern of `Casselman' plum fruit grown in high atmospheric O3 partial pressures.

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Carlos H. Crisosto, David Garner, Harry L. Andris, and Kevin R. Day

A commercial controlled delayed cooling or preconditioning treatment was developed to extend peach (Prunus persica) market life of the most popular California peach cultivars. A 24 to 48 h cooling delay at 68 °F (20.0 °C) was the most effective treatment for extending market life of internal breakdown susceptible peaches without causing fruit deterioration. This treatment increased minimum market life by up to 2 weeks in the cultivars tested. Weight loss and softening occurred during the controlled delayed cooling treatments, but did not reduce fruit quality. Detailed monitoring of these fruit quality changes during the delayed cooling period and proper use of fungicides is highly recommended for success in this new fruit delivery system. Rapid cooling after preconditioning is important to stop further fruit deterioration such as flesh softening, senescence, decay and weight loss. Controlled delayed cooling can also be used to pre-ripen susceptible and nonsusceptible peaches to deliver a ready-to-buy product to the consumer.

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Carlos H. Crisosto, F. Gordon Mitchell, and Zhiguo Ju

The susceptibility to chilling injury (CI) or internal breakdown (IB) was evaluated in the most currently planted yellow- and white-flesh peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] and nectarine [Prunus persica var. nectarine (L.) Batsch] and plum [Prunus salicina Lindel] cultivars from different breeding sources and fruit types. Cultivars were segregated into three categories (Cat. A, B, and C) according to their susceptibility to CI or IB symptoms (mealiness and flesh browning) when exposed to 0 °C or 5 °C storage temperatures. Cultivars in Cat. A did not develop any symptoms of CI after 5 weeks of storage at either temperature. Cultivars in Cat. B developed symptoms only when stored at 5 °C within 5 weeks of storage. Cultivars were classified in Cat. C when fruit developed CI symptoms at both storage temperatures within 5 weeks of storage. Most of the yellow- and white-flesh peach cultivars developed IB symptoms when stored at both storage temperatures (Cat. C). Most of the new nectarine cultivar introductions did not develop CI symptoms when stored at 0 °C or 5 °C after 5 weeks (Cat. A). Three out of six plum cultivars tested had CI symptoms within 5 weeks storage at 0 °C. However, all of the plum cultivars tested developed CI symptoms when stored at 5 °C (Cat. B). The importance of proper temperature management during postharvest handling was demonstrated.

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A.H.D. Francesconi, C.B. Watkins, A.N. Lakso, J.P. Nyrop, J. Barnard, and S.S. Denning

Fruit maturity, quality, calcium concentration and economic value of `Starkrimson Delicious' (Malus domestica Borkh.) apples, under a range of crop levels and European red mite [Panonychus ulmi (Koch)] cumulative mite-days (CMD), were best explained by local surface regression models involving CMD and crop load. Fruit from trees with low CMD and a light crop (125 fruit/tree, about 20 t/ha) were the most mature at harvest. Those fruit had higher ethylene concentrations, starch pattern indices, soluble solids concentrations, and watercore incidence at harvest than fruit from trees with low CMD and a normal crop (300 fruit/tree, about 40 t/ha), or with high CMD at any crop level. Those fruit also had higher incidences of watercore and internal breakdown after 4 months of cold storage. Calcium concentrations in fruit increased as crop load and CMD increased. Whole-canopy net CO2 exchange rate per fruit related better to fruit quality and calcium concentrations than either crop load or CMD alone, but was always a much worse predictor than local surface regressions. Low CMD and normally cropped trees had the highest crop value; lightly cropped trees had an intermediate crop value; while high CMD and normally cropped trees had the lowest crop economic value. Crop load should be considered when defining action thresholds for mites, and harvest schedules for apples should reflect crop load and mite populations on apple trees.