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Concept: Ethylene


Banana finger drop is defined as dislodgement of individual fruits from the hand at the pedicel rupture area. For some banana varieties, this is a major feature of the ripening process, in addition to ethylene production and sugar metabolism. The few studies devoted to assessing the physiological and molecular basis of this process revealed (i) the similarity between this process and softening, (ii) the early onset of related molecular events, between the first and fourth day after ripening induction, and (iii) the putative involvement of ethylene as a regulatory factor. This study was conducted with the aim of identifying, through a candidate gene approach, a quality-related marker that could be used as a tool in breeding programmes. Here we examined the relationship between ripening ethylene biosynthesis (EB) and finger drop in order to gain further insight into the upstream regulatory steps of the banana finger drop process and to identify putative related candidate genes.

Concepts: DNA, Amino acid, Molecular biology, Biology, Fruit, Ethylene, Ripening, Banana


Carotenoids represent some of the most important secondary metabolites in the human diet, and tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) is a rich source of these health promoting compounds. In this work, a novel and fruit-related regulator of pigment accumulation in tomato has been identified by Artificial Neural Network Inference Analysis (ANN) and its function validated in transgenic plants. A tomato-fruit gene-regulatory network was generated using ANN and transcription-factor gene-expression profiles (Tfs) derived from fruits sampled at various points during development and ripening. One of the Tfs with a sequence related to an Arabidopsis PSEUDO RESPONSE REGULATOR 2-LIKE gene (APRR2-Like) was up-regulated at the breaker stage in wild type tomato fruits and, when over expressed in transgenic lines, increased plastid number, area and pigment content; enhancing the levels of chlorophyll in immature unripe fruits and carotenoids in red ripe fruits. Analysis of the transcriptome of transgenic lines over expressing the tomato APPR2-Like gene revealed up-regulation of several ripening-related genes in the over-expression lines providing a link between expression of this tomato gene and the ripening process. A putative orthologue of the tomato APPR2-Like gene in sweet pepper was associated with pigment accumulation in fruit tissues. We conclude that the function of this gene is conserved across taxa and that it encodes a protein that has an important role in ripening.

Concepts: Gene expression, Fruit, Tomato, Solanaceae, Vegetable, Eggplant, Ethylene, Ripening


Vitrification of endothelial cells (MHECT-5) has not previously been compared with controlled slow freezing methods under standardized conditions. To identify the best cryopreservation technique, we evaluated vitrification and standardized controlled-rate -1°C/minute cell freezing in a -80°C freezer and tested four cryoprotective agents (CPA), namely dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), ethylene glycol (EG), propylene glycol (PG), and glycerol (GLY), and two media, namely Dulbecco’s modified Eagle medium Ham’s F-12 (DMEM)and K+-modified TiProtec (K+TiP), which is a high-potassium-containing medium. Numbers of viable cells in proliferation were evaluated by the CellTiter 96® AQueous One Solution Cell Proliferation Assay (Promega Corporation, Mannheim, Germany). To detect the exact frozen cell number per cryo vial, DNA content was measured by using Hoechst 33258 dye prior to analysis. Thus, results could be evaluated unconstrained by absolute cell number. Thawed cells were cultured in 25 cm2 cell culture flasks to confluence and examined daily by phase contrast imaging. With regard to cell recovery immediately after thawing, DMSO was the most suitable CPA combined with K+TiP in vitrification (99 ±0.5%) and with DMEM in slow freezing (92 ±1.6%). The most viable cells in proliferation after three days of culture were obtained in cells vitrificated by using GLY with K+TiP (308 ±34%) and PG with DMEM in slow freezing (280 ±27%).

Concepts: Ethylene glycol, Ethylene, Diol, Propylene glycol, Dimethyl sulfoxide, Glycerol, Cryobiology, Cryoprotectant


Shelf life is an important quality trait for many fruit, including tomatoes. We report that enrichment of anthocyanin, a natural pigment, in tomatoes can significantly extend shelf life. Processes late in ripening are suppressed by anthocyanin accumulation, and susceptibility to Botrytis cinerea, one of the most important postharvest pathogens, is reduced in purple tomato fruit. We show that reduced susceptibility to B. cinerea is dependent specifically on the accumulation of anthocyanins, which alter the spreading of the ROS burst during infection. The increased antioxidant capacity of purple fruit likely slows the processes of overripening. Enhancing the levels of natural antioxidants in tomato provides a novel strategy for extending shelf life by genetic engineering or conventional breeding.

Concepts: Bacteria, Antioxidant, Vitamin C, Fruit, Tomato, Ethylene, Anthocyanin, Raspberry


Plants cannot change location to escape stressful environments. Therefore, plants evolved to respond and acclimate to diverse stimuli, including the seemingly innocuous touch stimulus [1-4]. Although some species, such as Venus flytrap, have fast touch responses, most plants display more gradual touch-induced morphological alterations, called thigmomorphogenesis [2, 3, 5, 6]. Thigmomorphogenesis may be adaptive; trees subjected to winds develop less elongated and thicker trunks and thus are less likely damaged by powerful wind gusts [7]. Despite the widespread relevance of thigmomorphogenesis, the regulation that underlies plant mechanostimulus-induced morphological responses remains largely unknown. Furthermore, whether thigmomorphogenesis confers additional advantage is not fully understood. Although aspects of thigmomorphogenesis resemble ethylene effects [8], and touch can induce ethylene synthesis [9, 10], Arabidopsis ethylene response mutants show touch-induced thigmomorphogenesis [11]; thus, ethylene response is nonessential for thigmomorphogenesis. Here we show that jasmonate (JA) phytohormone both is required for and promotes the salient characteristics of thigmomorphogenesis in Arabidopsis, including a touch-induced delay in flowering and rosette diameter reduction. Furthermore, we find that repetitive mechanostimulation enhances Arabidopsis pest resistance in a JA-dependent manner. These results highlight an important role for JA in mediating mechanostimulus-induced plant developmental responses and resultant cross-protection against biotic stress.

Concepts: Organism, Plant, Chlorophyll, Ethylene, Wind, Perennial plant, Rapid plant movement, Venus Flytrap


Durian (Durio zibethinus) is a Southeast Asian tropical plant known for its hefty, spine-covered fruit and sulfury and onion-like odor. Here we present a draft genome assembly of D. zibethinus, representing the third plant genus in the Malvales order and first in the Helicteroideae subfamily to be sequenced. Single-molecule sequencing and chromosome contact maps enabled assembly of the highly heterozygous durian genome at chromosome-scale resolution. Transcriptomic analysis showed upregulation of sulfur-, ethylene-, and lipid-related pathways in durian fruits. We observed paleopolyploidization events shared by durian and cotton and durian-specific gene expansions in MGL (methionine γ-lyase), associated with production of volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs). MGL and the ethylene-related gene ACS (aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid synthase) were upregulated in fruits concomitantly with their downstream metabolites (VSCs and ethylene), suggesting a potential association between ethylene biosynthesis and methionine regeneration via the Yang cycle. The durian genome provides a resource for tropical fruit biology and agronomy.

Concepts: DNA, Amino acid, Biology, Species, Fruit, Ethylene, Durian, Malvaceae


Metallic nanoparticles with strong optically resonant properties behave as nanoscale optical antennas, and have recently shown extraordinary promise as light-driven catalysts. Traditionally, however, heterogeneous catalysis has relied upon weakly light-absorbing metals such as Pd, Pt, Ru, or Rh to lower the activation energy for chemical reactions. Here we show that coupling a plasmonic nanoantenna directly to catalytic nanoparticles enables the light-induced generation of hot carriers within the catalyst nanoparticles, transforming the entire complex into an efficient light-controlled reactive catalyst. In Pd-decorated Al nanocrystals, photocatalytic hydrogen desorption closely follows the antenna-induced local absorption cross-section of the Pd islands, and a supralinear power dependence strongly suggests that hot-carrier-induced desorption occurs at the Pd island surface. When acetylene is present along with hydrogen, the selectivity for photocatalytic ethylene production relative to ethane is strongly enhanced, approaching 40:1. These observations indicate that antenna-reactor complexes may greatly expand possibilities for developing designer photocatalytic substrates.

Concepts: Enzyme, Chemical reaction, Hydrogen, Catalysis, Haber process, Adsorption, Ethylene, Activation energy


Observations made during the New Horizons flyby provide a detailed snapshot of the current state of Pluto’s atmosphere. Whereas the lower atmosphere (at altitudes of less than 200 kilometers) is consistent with ground-based stellar occultations, the upper atmosphere is much colder and more compact than indicated by pre-encounter models. Molecular nitrogen (N2) dominates the atmosphere (at altitudes of less than 1800 kilometers or so), whereas methane (CH4), acetylene (C2H2), ethylene (C2H4), and ethane (C2H6) are abundant minor species and likely feed the production of an extensive haze that encompasses Pluto. The cold upper atmosphere shuts off the anticipated enhanced-Jeans, hydrodynamic-like escape of Pluto’s atmosphere to space. It is unclear whether the current state of Pluto’s atmosphere is representative of its average state–over seasonal or geologic time scales.

Concepts: Earth, Ethylene, Methane, Saturn, Ethane, Pluto, Acetylene, Titan


Fruits are an important part of a healthy diet. They provide essential vitamins and minerals, and their consumption is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and certain cancers. These important plant products can, however, be expensive to purchase, may be of disappointing quality and often have a short shelf life. A major challenge for crop improvement in fleshy fruit species is the enhancement of their health-promoting attributes while improving quality and reducing postharvest waste. To achieve these aims, a sound mechanistic understanding of the processes involved in fruit development and ripening is needed. In recent years, substantial insights have been made into the mechanistic basis of ethylene biosynthesis, perception and signalling and the identity of master regulators of ripening that operate upstream of, or in concert with a regulatory pathway mediated by this plant hormone. The role of other plant hormones in the ripening process has, however, remained elusive, and the links between regulators and downstream processes are still poorly understood. In this review, we focus on tomato as a model for fleshy fruit and provide an overview of the molecular circuits known to be involved in ripening, especially those controlling pigment accumulation and texture changes. We then discuss how this information can be used to understand ripening in other fleshy fruit-bearing species. Recent developments in comparative genomics and systems biology approaches are discussed. The potential role of epigenetic changes in generating useful variation is highlighted along with opportunities for enhancing the level of metabolites that have a beneficial effect on human health.

Concepts: Health, Nutrition, Understanding, Fruit, Tomato, Ethylene, Ripening, Banana


Ripening of tomato fruits is triggered by the plant hormone ethylene, but its effect is restricted by an unknown developmental cue to mature fruits containing viable seeds. To determine whether this cue involves epigenetic remodeling, we expose tomatoes to the methyltransferase inhibitor 5-azacytidine and find that they ripen prematurely. We performed whole-genome bisulfite sequencing on fruit in four stages of development, from immature to ripe. We identified 52,095 differentially methylated regions (representing 1% of the genome) in the 90% of the genome covered by our analysis. Furthermore, binding sites for RIN, one of the main ripening transcription factors, are frequently localized in the demethylated regions of the promoters of numerous ripening genes, and binding occurs in concert with demethylation. Our data show that the epigenome is not static during development and may have been selected to ensure the fidelity of developmental processes such as ripening. Crop-improvement strategies could benefit by taking into account not only DNA sequence variation among plant lines, but also the information encoded in the epigenome.

Concepts: DNA, Gene expression, Methylation, Fruit, Tomato, Ethylene, Ripening, Banana