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Keywords:

  • Acid invertase;
  • fruit ripening;
  • sink metabolism;
  • sucrose accumulation;
  • sucrose phosphate synthase;
  • sucrose synthase

Recent reports have suggested that sucrose phosphate synthase (EC 2.4.1.14), a key enzyme in sucrose biosynthesis in photosynthetic “source” tissues, may also be important in some sucrose accumulating “sink” tissues. These experiments were conducted to determine if sucrose phosphate synthase is involved in sucrose accumulation in fruits of several species. Peach (Prunus persica NCT 516) and strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa cv. Chandler) fruits were harvested directly from the plant at various stages of fruit development. Kiwi (Actinidia chinensis), papaya (Carica papaya), pineapple (Ananas comosus) and mango (Mangifera indica) were sampled in postharvest storage over a period of several days. Carbohydrate concentrations and activities of sucrose phosphate synthase, sucrose synthase (EC 2.4.1.13), and acid and neutral invertases (EC 3.2.1.26) were measured. All fruits contained significant activities of sucrose phosphate synthase. Moreover, in fruits from all species except pineapple and papaya, there was an increase in sucrose phosphate synthase activity associated with the accumulation of sucrose in situ. The increase in sucrose concentration in peaches was also associated with an increase in sucrose synthase activity and, in strawberries, with increased activity of both sucrose synthase and neutral invertase. The hexose pools in all fruits were comprised of equimolar concentrations of fructose and glucose, except in the mango. In mango, the fructose to glucose ratio increased from 2 to 41 during ripening as sucrose concentration more than doubled. The results of this study indicate that activities of the sucrose metabolizing enzymes, including sucrose phosphate synthase, within the fruit itself, are important in determining the soluble sugar content of fruits of many species. This appears to be true for fruits which sweeten from a starch reserve and in fruits from sorbitol translocating species, raffinose saccharide translocating species, and sucrose translocating species.