Indexed on: 08 Aug '12Published on: 08 Aug '12Published in: Food Chemistry
The peel yellowing is an important pigment physiological process of green fruit ripening, which mainly results from chlorophyll degradation in the fruit peel. In this work, two typical cultivars with different ripening speed, a slow ripening pear 'Emerald' (Pyrus bretschneideri Rehd. cv. Emerald) and a fast ripening 'Jingbai' (Pyrus ussuriensis Maxim. cv. Jingbai) were used to investigate the molecular mechanism of chlorophyll degradation in pear yellowing/ripening during postharvest storage. The fruits after harvest were treated with 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP), an ethylene action inhibitor at 1.0 μLl(-1) to determine its effect on chloroplast ultrastructure and the expression of chlorophyll degradation associated genes in peel tissues. Our results show that the pears treated with 1-MCP had a lower ethylene production rate and higher chlorophyll content compared to those of untreated fruit. The more intact chloroplasts with well-organised grana thylakoids and small plastoglobuli were maintained in the peel of 1-MCP treated fruit for up to 30 and 15 d in 'Emerald' and 'Jingbai', respectively. The expression of chlorophyll degradation associated genes: pheophorbide a oxygenase (PAO), non-yellow colouring (NYC), NYC1-like (NOL), stay-green 1(SGR1), was suppressed, while no significant change was found in chlorophyllase 1 (CHL1) and red chlorophyll catabolite reductase (RCCR) in both cultivar fruits treated with 1-MCP. These results suggest that 1-MCP can delay chlorophyll degradation by inhibiting ethylene production and suppressing the gene expression of PAO, NYC, NOL and SGR1, which are closely associated with chlorophyll catabolic pathway.