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Keywords:

  • Lycopersicon esculentum;
  • cell wall;
  • fruit growth;
  • peroxidase;
  • ripening mutants;
  • tomato

ABSTRACT

The cessation of tomato fruit growth is thought to be induced by an increase in the activity of enzymes which rigidify cell walls in the fruit skin. Peroxidase could catalyse such wall-stiffening reactions, and marked rises in peroxidase activity were recently reported in skin cell walls towards fruit maturity. Peroxidase isoforms in the fruit are here analysed using native gel electrophoresis. New isoforms of apparent Mr 44, 48 and 53 kDa are shown to appear in cell walls of the fruit skin at around the time of cessation of growth. It is inferred that these isozymes are present in the cell wall in vivo. Fruit from a range of non-ripening mutants were also examined. Some of these do not soften or ripen for many weeks after achieving their final size. The new isozymes were found in skin cell walls of mature fruit in each of these mutants, as in the wild-type and commercial varieties. It is concluded that the late-appearing isozymes are not associated with fruit ripening or softening, and are probably not ethylene-induced. They may act to control fruit growth by cross-linking wall polymers within the fruit skin, thus mechanically stiffening the walls and terminating growth.