Pawpaw [Asimina Triloba (L.) Dunal] Fruit Ripening. I. Ethylene Biosynthesis And Production
Pawpaw fruit ethylene production, 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC) synthase (ACS) and ACC oxidase (ACO) activities, and tissue content of the ethylene precursor ACC and conjugate malonyl-ACC (MACC) were measured during postharvest ripening. Fruit were harvested near the advent of the ripening process and were ripened at room temperature. The fruit displayed increases in ethylene production and respiration rate during ripening with maxima for both 3 days after harvest. Mean ethylene maxima on a fresh weight basis were 4.7 and 7.6 μg·kg-1·h-1 and mean respiratory (CO2 production) maxima on a fresh weight basis were 220 and 239 mg·kg-1·h-1 in 1999 and 2001, respectively. The increase in ethylene evolution coincided with an increase in respiration and a rapid decline in fruit firmness. Internal and external fruit firmness declined in a parallel manner. The ethylene climacteric peak occurred after the greatest decline in fruit firmness, indicating that low levels of ethylene may be sufficient to initiate the ripening process. The ethylene climacteric peak also coincided with the highest activities of both ACS and ACO as well as the maximum tissue ACC content. As ACC content increased, MACC content declined, suggesting a regulation of ethylene production via free ACC levels by malonylation of ACC. Thus, the climacteric development of ethylene production may be regulated by an increase of ACS activity and a decrease in ACC malonyltransferase activity, making more free ACC available for the production of ethylene by increased activity of ACO.