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Keywords:

  • Cucumis melo (melon);
  • fruit metabolism;
  • fruit metabolome;
  • fruit quality;
  • mass spectrometry (MS);
  • metabolic profiling;
  • nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR)

Summary

  • Variations in tissue development and spatial composition have a major impact on the nutritional and organoleptic qualities of ripe fleshy fruit, including melon (Cucumis melo). To gain a deeper insight into the mechanisms involved in these changes, we identified key metabolites for rational food quality design.
  • The metabolome, volatiles and mineral elements were profiled employing an unprecedented range of complementary analytical technologies. Fruits were followed at a number of time points during the final ripening process and tissues were collected across the fruit flesh from rind to seed cavity. Approximately 2000 metabolite signatures and 15 mineral elements were determined in an assessment of temporal and spatial melon fruit development.
  • This study design enabled the identification of: coregulated hubs (including aspartic acid, 2-isopropylmalic acid, β-carotene, phytoene and dihydropseudoionone) in metabolic association networks; global patterns of coordinated compositional changes; and links of primary and secondary metabolism to key mineral and volatile fruit complements.
  • The results reveal the extent of metabolic interactions relevant to ripe fruit quality and thus have enabled the identification of essential candidate metabolites for the high-throughput screening of melon breeding populations for targeted breeding programmes aimed at nutrition and flavour improvement.