Ripening is a tightly controlled and developmentally regulated process involving networks of genes, and metabolites that result in dramatic changes in fruit colour, texture and flavour. Molecular and genetic analysis in tomato has revealed a series of regulatory genes involved in fruit development and ripening, including MADS box and SPB box transcription factors and genes involved in ethylene synthesis, signalling and response. Volatile metabolites represent a significant part of the plant metabolome, playing an important role in plant signalling, defence strategies and probably in regulatory mechanisms. They also play an important role in fruit quality. In order to acquire a better insight into the biochemical and genetic control of flavour compound generation and links between these metabolites and the central regulators of ripening, five pleiotropic mutant tomato lines were subjected to volatile metabolite profiling in comparison with wild-type Ailsa Craig. One hundred and seventeen volatile compounds were identified and quantified using SPME (Solid Phase Microextraction) headspace extraction followed by Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) and the data were subjected to multivariate comparative analysis. We find that the different mutants each produce distinct volatile profiles during ripening. Through principal component analysis the volatiles most dramatically affected are those derived from fatty-acids. The results are consistent with the suggestion that specific isoforms of lipoxygenase located in the plastids and the enzymes that provide precursors and downstream metabolites play a key role in determining volatile composition.
Posted by Susie Lydon |