The Molecular Biology and Biochemistry of Fruit Ripening
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More About This Title The Molecular Biology and Biochemistry of Fruit Ripening


A comprehensive and mechanistic perspective on fruit ripening, emphasizing commonalities and differences between fruit groups and ripening processes.

Fruits are an essential part of the human diet and contain important phytochemicals that provide protection against heart disease and cancers. Fruit ripening is of importance for human health and for industry-based strategies to harness natural variation, or genetic modification, for crop improvement.

This book covers recent advances in the field of plant genomics and how these discoveries can be exploited to understand evolutionary processes and the complex network of hormonal and genetic control of ripening. The book explains the physiochemical and molecular changes in fruit that impact its quality, and recent developments in understanding of the genetic, molecular and biochemical basis for colour, flavour and texture. It is a valuable resource for plant and crop researchers and professionals, agricultural engineers, horticulturists, and food scientists.


  • Reviews the physiochemical and molecular changes in fruit which impact flavour, texture, and colour
  • Covers recent advances in genomics on the genetic, molecular, and biochemical basis of fruit quality
  • Integrates information on both hormonal and genetic control of ripening
  • Relevant for basic researchers and applied scientists


Graham B. Seymour is Professor of Plant Biotechnology and Head of the Plant and Crop Science Division at The University of Nottingham, UK.

Mervin Poole is Section Manager at Campden BRI - the UK's largest independent membership-based organization carrying out research and development for the food and drinks industry worldwide.

James J. Giovannoni is a Research Molecular Biologist for the United States Department of Agriculture,  Professor at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research and Adjunct Professor of Plant Biology at Cornell University, USA.

Gregory A. Tucker is Professor of Plant Biochemistry and Associate Dean (Science) at The University of Nottingham, UK.



List of Contributors ix

Preface xi

Chapter 1 Biochemistry of Fruit Ripening 1
Sonia Osorio and Alisdair R. Fernie

Introduction 1

Central Carbon Metabolism 4

Ethylene in Ripening 7

Polyamines 9

Volatiles 10

Cell Wall Metabolism 11

Concluding Remarks 13

References 13

Chapter 2 Fruit—An Angiosperm Innovation 21
Sandra Knapp and Amy Litt

Introduction 21

Fruit in the Fossil Record 30

Fruit Variation and Angiosperm Phylogeny 32

Fruit Development 33

Fruit as a Driver of Angiosperm Diversity 36

Acknowledgments 38

References 38

Chapter 3 Ethylene and the Control of Fruit Ripening 43
Don Grierson

Introduction 43

Ethylene and Climacteric and Nonclimacteric Fruits 46

A Molecular Explanation for System-1 and System-2 Ethylene 48

Ethylene and Ripening Gene Networks in Flower and Fruit Development 53

Ethylene Perception and Signaling 54

Ethylene Response Factors 60

Ethylene and Ripening Gene Expression 60

Conclusions 67

Acknowledgments 68

References 68

Chapter 4 Carotenoid Biosynthesis and Chlorophyll Degradation 75
Peter M. Bramley

Introduction 75

Distribution of Carotenoids and Chlorophylls in Fruit 75

Chlorophyll Degradation and Recycling 78

Carotenoids and Carotenoid Metabolites 82

Future Perspectives 100

Acknowledgments 102

Bibliography 102

Chapter 5 Phenylpropanoid Metabolism and Biosynthesis of Anthocyanins 117
Laura Jaakola

Introduction 117

Cinnamic Acids 119

Monolignols, Lignans, and Lignin 120

Coumarins 120

Stilbenoids 122

Flavonoids 122

Engineering Elevated Levels of Flavonoids and Other Phenylpropanoids 128

Conclusion 129

References 129

Chapter 6 Biosynthesis of Volatile Compounds 135
Antonio Granell and Jose Luis Rambla

Introduction 135

Metabolic Pathways 136

Identification of Quantitative Trait Loci for Volatiles 152

Metabolic Engineering of the Fruit Volatile Pathways 153

Future Perspectives 154

References 155

Chapter 7 Cell Wall Architecture and Metabolism in Ripening Fruit and the Complex Relationship with Softening 163
Eliel Ruiz-May and Jocelyn K.C. Rose

Introduction 163

Building Blocks of Fruit Cell Walls 164

The Architecture of Fruit Cell Walls 168

Cell Wall Dynamics in Ripening Fruit 171

The Cuticular Cell Wall and Fruit Softening 177

Summary 179

Acknowledgments 180

References 180

Chapter 8 Regulatory Networks Controlling Ripening 189
Betsy Ampopho, Natalie Chapman, Graham B. Seymour, and James J. Giovannoni

Hormonal Control 189

Genetic Networks 191

Epigenetic Regulation 200

References 201

Index 207