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Modeling the vacuolar storage of malate shed lights on pre- and post-harvest fruit acidity

Abstract : Background: Malate is one of the most important organic acids in many fruits and its concentration plays a critical role in organoleptic properties. Several studies suggest that malate accumulation in fruit cells is controlled at the level of vacuolar storage. However, the regulation of vacuolar malate storage throughout fruit development, and the origins of the phenotypic variability of the malate concentration within fruit species remain to be clarified. In the present study, we adapted the mechanistic model of vacuolar storage proposed by Lobit et al. in order to study the accumulation of malate in pre and postharvest fruits. The main adaptation concerned the variation of the free energy of ATP hydrolysis during fruit development. Banana fruit was taken as a reference because it has the particularity of having separate growth and post-harvest ripening stages, during which malate concentration undergoes substantial changes. Moreover, the concentration of malate in banana pulp varies greatly among cultivars which make possible to use the model as a tool to analyze the genotypic variability. The model was calibrated and validated using data sets from three cultivars with contrasting malate accumulation, grown under different fruit loads and potassium supplies, and harvested at different stages. Results: The model predicted the pre and post-harvest dynamics of malate concentration with fairly good accuracy for the three cultivars (mean RRMSE = 0.25-0.42). The sensitivity of the model to parameters and input variables was analyzed. According to the model, vacuolar composition, in particular potassium and organic acid concentrations, had an important effect on malate accumulation. The model suggested that rising temperatures depressed malate accumulation. The model also helped distinguish differences in malate concentration among the three cultivars and between the pre and post-harvest stages by highlighting the probable importance of proton pump activity and particularly of the free energy of ATP hydrolysis and vacuolar pH. Conclusions: This model appears to be an interesting tool to study malate accumulation in pre and postharvest fruits and to get insights into the ecophysiological determinants of fruit acidity, and thus may be useful for fruit quality improvement.
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Audrey Etienne, Michel Génard, Philippe Lobit, Christophe Bugaud. Modeling the vacuolar storage of malate shed lights on pre- and post-harvest fruit acidity. BMC Plant Biology, BioMed Central, 2014, 14, ⟨10.1186/s12870-014-0310-7⟩. ⟨hal-02636674⟩

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