Image Analysis and Polyphenol Study Reveal Complexity of Red-Flesh Apple Traits

Jenn Hoskins
17th May, 2024

Image Analysis and Polyphenol Study Reveal Complexity of Red-Flesh Apple Traits

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Researchers at Univ Angers developed a new method to measure red-flesh color intensity and distribution in apples
  • The new method uses advanced imaging techniques and statistical models to capture color variations more accurately
  • This approach helps identify genetic factors influencing red-flesh color and can aid apple breeders in developing new cultivars
The genetic basis of color development in red-flesh apples (Malus domestica Borkh) has been a subject of considerable research. However, current models fail to explain the variations in red pigmentation intensity and distribution observed among different cultivars. A recent study conducted by researchers at Univ Angers aimed to address this gap by developing a more robust method for estimating red-flesh color intensity and distribution[1]. Color in plants, including apples, is primarily due to pigments such as anthocyanins, carotenoids, and betalains. Anthocyanins, which are water-soluble pigments derived from phenylalanine, provide a wide range of colors from orange/red to violet/blue. These pigments are synthesized in the cytosol and localized in vacuoles, and their specific color can depend on various factors such as co-pigments, metal ions, and pH[2]. Carotenoids, on the other hand, are lipid-soluble and range from yellow to red, playing essential roles in the photosynthetic apparatus[2]. Betalains, which are nitrogen-containing compounds derived from tyrosine, also contribute to yellow-to-red colors but are found in a limited number of plant lineages[2]. The new study from Univ Angers builds on this foundational knowledge by focusing specifically on the red-flesh trait in apples. Traditional methods for evaluating this trait have relied on a discrete class notation index to estimate an average overall color. However, this approach fails to capture the continuous variations and non-homogeneous development of red color that are genotype-dependent. The researchers sought to develop a more precise method for estimating both the intensity and distribution of red-flesh color, which is crucial for identifying the genetic loci influencing this trait. The study employed advanced imaging techniques and statistical models to achieve a more accurate estimation of red-flesh color. By doing so, it was able to capture the diversity among different apple genotypes more effectively. This approach not only provides a better understanding of the genetic basis of red-flesh color but also offers a valuable tool for apple breeders aiming to develop new cultivars with desired color traits. The findings of this study are significant because they address a long-standing gap in our understanding of color development in red-flesh apples. Previous research has shown that anthocyanins can reduce photoinhibition and photobleaching of chlorophyll under light stress conditions, acting as photoprotective light screens in vegetative tissues[3]. This new study extends our understanding by showing how variations in anthocyanin distribution and intensity can be more accurately measured and linked to specific genetic loci. Furthermore, the study's approach could have broader applications beyond apples. The mechanisms controlling the function, formation, and evolution of petal pigmentation patterns have been a subject of interest in recent years[4]. The new method for estimating color intensity and distribution could potentially be applied to other plants, offering insights into the multiscale biological problems of cell decision-making and biodiversity. In summary, the study from Univ Angers provides a more robust method for estimating red-flesh color intensity and distribution in apples, addressing a critical gap in current models. By capturing the continuous variations and non-homogeneous development of red color, this research offers valuable insights into the genetic basis of this trait and has potential applications in broader botanical studies.



Main Study

1) Image analysis and polyphenol profiling unveil red-flesh apple phenotype complexity

Published 16th May, 2024

Related Studies

2) Biosynthesis of plant pigments: anthocyanins, betalains and carotenoids.

3) Anthocyanins in vegetative tissues: a proposed unified function in photoprotection.

4) Eco-Evo-Devo of petal pigmentation patterning.

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