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Unlocking blueberry quality: The role of cuticular waxes

Unlocking blueberry quality: The role of cuticular waxes
Transcriptional regulation of cyclic compounds during fruit ripening and postharvest storage and in response to exogenous abscisic acid (ABA) application in Calypso. Credit: Horticulture Research (2024). DOI: 10.1093/hr/uhae004

Cuticular waxes protect fruit by reducing water loss and influencing color. They are a mix of very-long-chain aliphatic and cyclic compounds, varying among fruit species. In blueberries, triterpenoids and β-diketones are most abundant.

However, their biosynthesis and genetic regulation are not well understood. Thus, a comprehensive study was needed to explore the transcriptional regulation of cuticular wax biosynthesis and its impact on fruit quality.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia, Canada's Michael Smith Genome Sciences Center, and the British Columbia Blueberry Council have conducted a study on cuticular wax biosynthesis in northern highbush blueberries.

The study was published on January 9, 2024, in the journal Horticulture Research. It investigates how transcriptional regulation of cuticular wax deposition affects fruit and surface color during ripening and postharvest storage.

By analyzing transcriptome changes and metabolite profiles, the study aims to identify key involved in wax biosynthesis and provide insights into improving fruit quality through wax management.

The study revealed that cuticular wax content in blueberries changes significantly during ripening and postharvest storage. Initially, total wax content decreases as the fruit ripens, attributed mainly to fruit expansion. However, during storage, there is a notable increase in wax content, indicating de novo biosynthesis.

The research identified 54 different wax compounds, with triterpenoids being the most abundant, followed by β-diketones. Transcriptome analysis highlighted a network of genes involved in cuticular wax biosynthesis. Notably, five OSC-Like genes were identified, encoding enzymes responsible for triterpenoid production.

The expression of these genes, along with three CYP716A-like genes, correlated with the accumulation of major wax compounds like oleanolic acid and ursolic acid. Exogenous application of abscisic acid (ABA) was found to induce the expression of triterpenoid biosynthetic genes, leading to increased wax content and altered wax composition. This resulted in reduced fruit water loss and enhanced surface color, especially increased lightness.

The study provides a comprehensive understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying cuticular wax biosynthesis in blueberries. It highlights the potential of manipulating wax biosynthesis pathways to improve fruit quality traits, such as reduced water loss and enhanced visual appeal, during postharvest storage.

Dr. Simone Castellarin, the corresponding author, stated, "Our findings shed light on the complex regulatory networks controlling cuticular wax biosynthesis in blueberries. By understanding these , we can develop strategies to enhance fruit quality and extend shelf life, benefiting both producers and consumers."

The study's insights are crucial for the blueberry industry. Manipulating wax biosynthesis genes can improve fruit quality traits like reduced water loss and better surface color, extending and marketability. These findings can also benefit other fruits. Future research can focus on breeding or to optimize wax composition, enhancing fruit resilience and quality during storage.

More information: Yifan Yan et al, Cuticular wax biosynthesis in blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum L.): Transcript and metabolite changes during ripening and storage affect key fruit quality traits, Horticulture Research (2024). DOI: 10.1093/hr/uhae004

Journal information: Horticulture Research

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Citation: Unlocking blueberry quality: The role of cuticular waxes (2024, May 21) retrieved 20 June 2024 from
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