The fruit cuticle as a modulator of postharvest quality
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The composition and structure of the surface tissues have a noticeable influence on the postharvest storage potential of fruits, inasmuch as they behave as a barrier against drying, chemical attacks, mechanical injuries and microbial infections. Cuticle is made of cutin - a biological insoluble polyester
- embedded in an impermeable wax complex, and its inner side interacts intimately with the underlying epidermal cell walls. The cuticle plays a decisive role in plant development, being its first communication system with the surrounding biotic and abiotic environment. Published reports on composition and biosynthesis of fruit cuticles are comparatively scarce, and many knowledge gaps exist as to what part they play in quality determination and postharvest performance. This review aims at collecting available information in relation to the role of fruit cuticle as a determinant factor of some important traits related to postharvest quality of produce, including water loss, susceptibility to several physical and biological stresses, and decreased fruit firmness. To our best knowledge, this is the first published work focusing on fruit cuticle as a major modulator of postharvest quality, and interlinking pre-existing disperse literature on this topic. A deeper comprehension of cuticle structure and functions will be of help in understanding postharvest biology and in designing new technological solutions.