How Low Oxygen Affects Tomato Cell Walls During Ripening

Jim Crocker
6th June, 2024

How Low Oxygen Affects Tomato Cell Walls During Ripening

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The study by the Polish Academy of Sciences examined how low oxygen conditions affect tomato ripening and cell wall composition
  • Low oxygen stress changes the cell wall's protein content and distribution of certain compounds, with more significant changes in fully ripe tomatoes
  • A 5% oxygen environment slows down ripening, while 0% oxygen speeds it up, with initial changes seen after 24 hours and more pronounced effects after 72 hours
Oxygen concentration significantly influences the storage environment of fruit, affecting both shelf life and quality. A recent study by the Polish Academy of Sciences[1] aimed to identify cell wall components related to the response to low oxygen conditions in tomatoes and to explore the effects of such conditions on the ripening process. The researchers examined tomatoes at various ripening stages stored in anoxic (0% oxygen) and hypoxic (5% oxygen) environments, employing a range of methods from microscopic immunolabelling to detailed molecular analyses. The study revealed that low oxygen stress impacts the cell wall composition, leading to changes in protein content and the distribution of low methyl-esterified homogalacturonan. Additionally, callose deposits appeared, and there were disruptions in the activities of β-1,3-glucanase, endo-β-1,4-glucanase, and guaiacol peroxidase (GPX). These changes were less pronounced in fruits at the breaker stage compared to those at the red ripe stage. Initial changes were observed after 24 hours, with more significant deviations becoming apparent after 72 hours. Interestingly, a 5% oxygen concentration slowed the ripening process, while 0% oxygen accelerated ripening changes. This study builds on previous findings that have documented the critical role of oxygen in plant tissues and its impact on various physiological processes. For instance, earlier research has shown that plants can decrease their oxygen consumption under low oxygen conditions to avoid internal anoxia[2]. This adaptive response involves restricting respiration and ATP consumption, which is crucial for maintaining cellular function under hypoxia. Additionally, plants can induce energy-conserving pathways of sucrose degradation, improving performance under low oxygen conditions[2]. The current study also aligns with previous research indicating that oxygen availability can vary significantly within plant tissues and that plants have evolved metabolic and morphological adaptations to endure oxygen deprivation[3]. The involvement of transcription factors, such as the ERF family, in regulating these responses has been well-documented, highlighting the complex molecular regulation of plant responses to oxygen deficiency[3]. Furthermore, the findings of the Polish Academy of Sciences study are consistent with the understanding that hypoxia can delay ripening and senescence in fruit, a phenomenon utilized to optimize storage conditions and prolong shelf life[4]. The study's detailed molecular analyses provide new insights into how low oxygen conditions affect cell wall components and enzymatic activities, adding to our knowledge of the physiological impact of hypoxia on fruit development. In summary, the research conducted by the Polish Academy of Sciences offers valuable insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying the response of tomato fruits to low oxygen conditions. By examining changes in cell wall composition and enzymatic activities, the study enhances our understanding of how hypoxia and anoxia influence the ripening process. These findings have practical implications for postharvest management, potentially aiding in the development of better storage and transport strategies to maintain fruit quality and extend shelf life.

FruitsBiochemPlant Science


Main Study

1) Low oxygen environment effect on the tomato cell wall composition during the fruit ripening process.

Published 6th June, 2024

Journal: BMC plant biology

Issue: Vol 24, Issue 1, Jun 2024

Related Studies

2) Response of plant metabolism to too little oxygen.

Journal: Current opinion in plant biology, Issue: Vol 6, Issue 3, Jun 2003

3) Regulation of the molecular response to oxygen limitations in plants.

4) Progress toward Understanding the Molecular Basis of Fruit Response to Hypoxia.

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