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Plant Methods. 2009 Apr 29;5:5. doi: 10.1186/1746-4811-5-5.

A rapid method of fruit cell isolation for cell size and shape measurements.

Author information

  • 1The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research, Private Bag 92169, Auckland 1142, New Zealand. rschaffer@hortresearch.co.nz.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Cell size is a structural component of fleshy fruit, contributing to important traits such as fruit size and texture. There are currently a number of methods for measuring cell size; most rely either on tissue sectioning or digestion of the tissue with cell wall degrading enzymes or chemicals to release single cells. Neither of these approaches is ideal for assaying large fruit numbers as both require a considerable time to prepare the tissue, with current methods of cell wall digestions taking 24 to 48 hours. Additionally, sectioning can lead to a measurement of a plane that does not represent the widest point of the cell.

RESULTS:

To develop a more rapid way of measuring fruit cell size we have developed a protocol that solubilises pectin in the middle lamella of the plant cell wall releasing single cells into a buffered solution. Gently boiling small fruit samples in a 0.05 M Na2CO3 solution, osmotically balanced with 0.3 M mannitol, produced good cell separation with little cellular damage in less than 30 minutes. The advantage of combining a chemical treatment with boiling is that the cells are rapidly killed. This stopped cell shape changes that could potentially occur during separation. With this method both the rounded and angular cells of the apple cultivars SciRos 'Pacific Rose' and SciFresh 'Jazz' were observed in the separated cells. Using this technique, an in-depth analysis was performed measuring cell size from 5 different apple cultivars. Cell size was measured using the public domain ImageJ software. For each cultivar a minimum of 1000 cells were measured and it was found that each cultivar displayed a different distribution of cell size. Cell size within cultivars was similar and there was no correlation between flesh firmness and cell size. This protocol was tested on tissue from other fleshy fruit including tomato, rock melon and kiwifruit. It was found that good cell separation was achieved with flesh tissue from all these fruit types, showing a broad utility to this protocol.

CONCLUSION:

We have developed a method for isolating single cells from fleshy fruit that reduces the time needed for fruit cell separation. This method was used to demonstrate differences in cell size and shape for 5 different apple cultivars. While firmness between the different cultivars is independent of cell size, apples with more angular cells appear to be firmer.

PMID:
19402911
PMCID:
PMC2685799
DOI:
10.1186/1746-4811-5-5
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