How Low Oxygen Affects Tomato Cell Walls During Ripening

Jenn Hoskins
7th 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 focused on how low oxygen conditions affect tomato fruit ripening and quality
  • Low oxygen conditions led to significant changes in cell wall components, such as a decrease in AGPs and pectins
  • These changes in cell wall composition are linked to the softening process during fruit ripening, potentially extending shelf life
Oxygen concentration plays a crucial role in determining the shelf life and quality of fruit during storage. A recent study conducted by the Polish Academy of Sciences aimed to identify cell wall components related to the response to low oxygen conditions in fruit and to determine the effects of such conditions on the ripening process[1]. This study focused on tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) fruits at different stages of ripening, stored in environments with 0% (anoxic) and 5% (hypoxic) oxygen concentrations. The researchers employed a variety of methods, including microscopic immunolabelling, enzymatic activity estimation, and detailed molecular approaches. The study's findings are significant in understanding how low oxygen conditions impact fruit ripening and quality. Previous research has shown that oxygen availability can vary significantly within plant tissues, and plants have evolved both metabolic and morphological adaptations to cope with low oxygen levels[2][3]. For instance, plants can decrease their oxygen consumption and adopt energy-conserving pathways to avoid internal anoxia[2]. This adaptive response is crucial for maintaining cellular function and avoiding damage under low oxygen conditions. In the context of fruit, hypoxia is a common occurrence due to factors such as diffusional barriers, low tissue diffusivity, and high oxygen consumption by respiration[4]. The physiological impact of hypoxia on fruit development is well-documented, with low oxygen environments known to delay ripening and senescence, thereby optimizing storage conditions and prolonging shelf life[4]. The current study builds on these findings by examining specific cell wall components that respond to low oxygen conditions. The researchers analyzed changes in the composition of various cell wall components, including extensin, arabinogalactan proteins (AGPs), rhamnogalacturonan-I, and homogalacturonans with different levels of methyl-esterification. These components are crucial for maintaining the structural integrity and function of the cell wall. Previous studies have shown that the distribution and arrangement of these components can significantly impact fruit texture and quality during ripening and storage[5]. The study found that low oxygen conditions led to significant changes in the composition of these cell wall components. For example, the content of AGPs and pectins decreased substantially, and their arrangement within the cell wall was remodeled. This disruption of the cell wall-plasma membrane continuum was associated with the softening process observed during fruit ripening[5]. These changes are likely a response to the hypoxic environment, which triggers metabolic and structural adaptations to maintain cellular function and prolong fruit shelf life. The findings from this study provide valuable insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying the response of fruit to low oxygen conditions. By identifying specific cell wall components involved in this response, the research offers potential targets for improving postharvest management strategies. For instance, manipulating the levels or activity of these components could help optimize storage conditions and extend the shelf life of fruit commodities. In summary, this study by the Polish Academy of Sciences highlights the importance of oxygen concentration in determining fruit quality and shelf life. By examining changes in cell wall components under low oxygen conditions, the researchers have provided a deeper understanding of the molecular adaptations that occur during fruit ripening. These findings build on previous research on plant responses to low oxygen levels[2][3][4][5] and offer potential applications for improving postharvest storage and management of fruit.

FruitsBiochemPlant Science


Main Study

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

Published 6th June, 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.

5) Structural network of arabinogalactan proteins (AGPs) and pectins in apple fruit during ripening and senescence processes.

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