Post-storage cell wall metabolism in two sweet cherry (Prunus avium L.) cultivars displaying different postharvest performance
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The biochemical processes underlying firmness loss of sweet cherry (Prunus avium L.) fruit are poorly understood.Studies on cell wall metabolism of sweet cherry have been generally undertaken during on-tree development or at harvest maturity, while published reports on postharvest changes are scarce and fragmentary. In this work, cell wall modifications after storage at 0 ºC were studied in two cherry cultivars ('Celeste' and 'Somerset') displaying different postharvest potential. Firmness was largely determined by the yields of the Na2CO3- and KOH-soluble fractions, enriched in covalently-bound pectins and in matrix glycans, respectively, and correlated well with ascorbic acid contents. The yields of these two cell wall fractions were correlated inversely with pectinmethylesterase and endo-1,4-b-D-glucanase activities, indicating a relevant role of these two enzymes in postharvest firmness changes in sweet cherry. The amount of solubilised cell wall materials was closely associated to the contents of dehydroascorbic acid, suggesting the possible involvement of oxidative mechanisms in cell wall disassembly. These data may help understanding the evolution of fruit quality during the marketing period, and give hints for the design of suitable management strategies to preserve key attributes.