Pawpaw fruit chilling injury and antioxidant protection

Federica Galli, Douglas D. Archbold, Kirk W. Pomper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) fruit stored longer than 4 weeks at 4 8C fail to ripen normally and may develop internal discoloration, indicative of chilling injury (CI). To determine if loss of antioxidant protection in the fruit tissue during cold storage could be the cause of these problems, the levels of total, reduced, and oxidized glutathione and ascorbate and the key enzymes glutathione reductase (GR) and ascorbate peroxidase (APX) of the ascorbateglutathione cycle were studied in fruit at 4 and 72 h after harvest and after 2, 4, 6, and 8 weeks of 4 8C storage. The total phenolic level was also studied due to its potential antioxidant role, and the activity of polyphenoloxidase (PPO) was assayed, as it may contribute to phenolic oxidation and tissue browning. Fruit ethylene production and respiration rates were in typical climacteric patterns during ripening after harvest and after up to 4 weeks of cold storage, increasing from 4 to 72 h after removal from cold storage, though maximum ethylene production declined after 2 weeks of cold storage. However, fruit showed higher respiration rates at 4 versus 72 h of ripening at 6 or 8 weeks of cold storage, opposite to that at earlier storage dates, possible evidence of CI. Ripening after harvest generally resulted in an increase in total and reduced glutathione, reduced ascorbate, and total phenolics. However, levels of total and reduced glutathione, total ascorbate, and total phenolics declined as storage time progressed. Neither GR nor APX exhibited changes during ripening or trends over the cold storage period. PPO activity increased as the storage period lengthened. Thus, the declining ability of these components of the protective antioxidant systems during the prolonged stress of low temperature storage may be one of the major causes of pawpaw CI limiting it to 4 weeks or less of cold storage. An increase in reactive oxygen species with prolonged storage, coupled with the increase in PPO activity, may have led to greater oxidative damage and been a major cause of the loss of ripening potential and the tissue browning that occurs in fruit stored for more than 4 weeks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)466-471
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2009


  • Ascorbate
  • Ethylene
  • Glutathione
  • Phenolics
  • Regular atmosphere storage
  • Respiration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Horticulture


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