Melatonin triggers metabolic and gene expression changes leading to improved quality traits of two sweet cherry cultivars during cold storage.
Food Chem. 2020 Feb 5 ;319:126360. Epub 2020 Feb 5. PMID: 32151896
Sweet cherry is a valuable non-climacteric fruit with elevated phytonutrients, whose fruit quality attributes are prone to rapid deterioration after harvest, especially peel damage and water loss of stem. Here the metabolic and transcriptional response of exogenous melatonin was assessed in two commercial cultivars of sweet cherry (Santina and Royal Rainier) during cold storage. Gene expression profiling revealed that cuticle composition and water movement may underlie the effect of melatonin in delaying weight loss. An effect of melatonin on total soluble solids and lower respiration rate was observed in both cultivars. Melatonin induces overexpression of genes related to anthocyanin biosynthesis, which correlates with increased anthocyanin levels and changes in skin color (Chroma). Our results indicate that along with modulating antioxidant metabolism, melatonin improves fruit quality traits by triggering a range of metabolic and gene expression changes, which ultimately contribute to extend sweet cherry postharvest storability.