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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: The Biologist's Forum - Fruit Ripening: Why Does Fruit Soften and Rot after Harvest?

item Bruton, Benny
item Zhang, Jiuxu

Submitted to: Beta Beta Beta Biological Society (BIOS)
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: April 4, 1997
Publication Date: N/A

Technical Abstract: Fruit ripening is an important physiological process that continues following harvest. Approximately 10% of all fruits and vegetables are lost after harvest due to disease and natural aging. Endogenous ethylene is first detected in the seed cavity of the fruit which explains why the cavity area softens first and then proceeds outward. During this softening gperiod, sucrose content, respiration rates and ethylene synthesis peak at first abscission (full slip) from the vine. During this peak developmental time, latent fungal pathogens that invade early in fruit development are stimulated and begin to colonize and rapidly macerated the fruit. Fruit softening and senescence following harvest are thought to be directly related to the reactivation of latent fungal infections. How these latent infections are "turned on" is still unknown and the focus of much research. There is potential to manipulate genes involved in ethylene synthesis, fungal inhibitors of fruit origin, and cell wall softening enzymes. Regulation of these events will result in higher quality fruit, with less postharvest decays.

Last Modified: 4/20/2015
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