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Plant Physiol. 2007 Jul;144(3):1667-79. Epub 2007 Apr 27.

The developmental pattern of tomato fruit wax accumulation and its impact on cuticular transpiration barrier properties: effects of a deficiency in a beta-ketoacyl-coenzyme A synthase (LeCER6).

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Universität Würzburg, Julius-von-Sachs-Institut für Biowissenschaften, Wuerzburg, Germany.


Cuticular waxes play a pivotal role in limiting transpirational water loss across the primary plant surface. The astomatous fruits of the tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) 'MicroTom' and its lecer6 mutant, defective in a beta-ketoacyl-coenzyme A synthase, which is involved in very-long-chain fatty acid elongation, were analyzed with respect to cuticular wax load and composition. The developmental course of fruit ripening was followed. Both the 'MicroTom' wild type and lecer6 mutant showed similar patterns of quantitative wax accumulation, although exhibiting considerably different water permeances. With the exception of immature green fruits, the lecer6 mutant exhibited about 3- to 8-fold increased water loss per unit time and fruit surface area when compared to the wild type. This was not the case with immature green fruits. The differences in final cuticular barrier properties of tomato fruits in both lines were fully developed already in the mature green to early breaker stage of fruit development. When the qualitative chemical composition of fruit cuticular waxes during fruit ripening was investigated, the deficiency in a beta-ketoacyl-coenzyme A synthase in the lecer6 mutant became discernible in the stage of mature green fruits mainly by a distinct decrease in the proportion of n-alkanes of chain lengths > C(28) and a concomitant increase in cyclic triterpenoids. This shift in cuticular wax biosynthesis of the lecer6 mutant appears to be responsible for the simultaneously occurring increase of water permeance. Changes in cutin composition were also investigated as a function of developmental stage. This integrative functional approach demonstrates a direct relationship between cuticular transpiration barrier properties and distinct chemical modifications in cuticular wax composition during the course of tomato fruit development.

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