The role of ABA in triggering ethylene biosynthesis and ripening of tomato fruit

Mei Zhang, Bing Yuan, Ping Leng
Journal of Experimental Botany 2009, 60 (6): 1579-88
In order to understand more details about the role of abscisic acid (ABA) in fruit ripening and senescence of tomato, two cDNAs (LeNCED1 and LeNCED2) which encode 9-cis-epoxycarotenoid dioxygenase (NCED) as a key enzyme in ABA biosynthesis, two cDNAs (LeACS2 and LeACS4) which encode 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC) synthase, and one cDNA (LeACO1) which encodes ACC oxidase involved in ethylene biosynthesis were cloned from tomato fruit using a reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR) approach. The relationship between ABA and ethylene during ripening was also investigated. Among six sampling times in tomato fruits, the LeNCED1 gene was highly expressed only at the breaker stage when the ABA content becomes high. After this, the LeACS2, LeACS4, and LeACO1 genes were expressed with some delay. The change in pattern of ACO activity was in accordance with ethylene production reaching its peak at the pink stage. The maximum ABA content preceded ethylene production in both the seeds and the flesh. The peak value of ABA, ACC, and ACC oxidase activity, and ethylene production all started to increase earlier in seeds than in flesh tissues, although they occurred at different ripening stages. Exogenous ABA treatment increased the ABA content in both flesh and seed, inducing the expression of both ACS and ACO genes, and promoting ethylene synthesis and fruit ripening, while treatment with fluridone or nordihydroguaiaretic acid (NDGA) inhibited them, delaying fruit ripening and softening. Based on the results obtained in this study, it was concluded that LeNCED1 initiates ABA biosynthesis at the onset of fruit ripening, and might act as an original inducer, and ABA accumulation might play a key role in the regulation of ripeness and senescence of tomato fruit.

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