Effects of postharvest treatments on gene expression in Prunus persica fruit: Normal and altered ripening
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Peach (Prunus persica) fruit have a short shelf-life, and the most common method employed to delay ripening and increase their postharvest life is cold storage. However, after extended storage at low temperature some cultivars have alterated ripening processes, resulting in a lack of juice and a woolly texture. To improve our understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in the responses of peach fruit to cold storage we determined gene expression changes of fruit (cv. O’Henry) under different postharvest conditions: ripening (5 days at 21 ◦C), cold storage (21 days at 4 ◦C) and induction of woolliness (21 days at 4 ◦C followed by 5 days at 21 ◦C). Cluster analyses of genes differentially expressed between treatments revealed unique patterns associated with biological processes that operate during postharvest treatments. Genes up-regulated during postharvest ripening and woolliness include components of ethylene, and aroma biosynthesis as well as oxidative stress response. During cold storage treatment and woolliness, several genes linked to the oxidative stress response increased in abundance, suggesting changes in redox status. Quantitative RTPCR analysis showed a sequential increase levels of mRNAs encoding key components of cellular stress response. Moreover, after 21 days of cold storage, expression of genes encoding oxidoreductase, catalase, superoxide dismutase and gluthatione reductase was still significantly higher than before cold treatment, suggesting that fruit cells were able to respond to the increased production of ROS that was induced by extended cold storage. In the woolly fruit, up-regulation of stress response genes was accompanied by down-regulation of key components of metabolic pathways that are active during peach ripening. The altered expression pattern of these genes might account for the abnormal ripening of woolly fruit.
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