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Fruit cuticle lipid composition and water loss in a diverse collection of pepper (Capsicum)

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e-mail: matt.jenks@ars.usda.gov

Abstract

Pepper (Capsicum spp.) fruits are covered by a relatively thick coating of cuticle that limits fruit water loss, a trait previously associated with maintenance of postharvest fruit quality during commercial marketing. To shed light on the chemical-compositional diversity of cuticles in pepper, the fruit cuticles from 50 diverse pepper genotypes from a world collection were screened for both wax and cutin monomer amount and composition. These same genotypes were also screened for fruit water loss rate and this was tested for associations with cuticle composition. Our results revealed an unexpectedly large amount of variation for the fruit cuticle lipids, with a more than 14-fold range for total wax amounts and a more than 16-fold range for cutin monomer amounts between the most extreme accessions. Within the major wax constituents fatty acids varied from 1 to 46%, primary alcohols from 2 to 19%, n-alkanes from 13 to 74% and triterpenoids and sterols from 10 to 77%. Within the cutin monomers, total hexadecanoic acids ranged from 54 to 87%, total octadecanoic acids ranged from 10 to 38% and coumaric acids ranged from 0.2 to 8% of the total. We also observed considerable differences in water loss among the accessions, and unique correlations between water loss and cuticle constituents. The resources described here will be valuable for future studies of the physiological function of fruit cuticle, for the identification of genes and QTLs associated with fruit cuticle synthesis in pepper fruit, and as a starting point for breeding improved fruit quality in pepper.

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