While fleshy fruit softening has long been mechanistically linked to cell wall disassembly, the importance of the fruit cuticle in water relations and firmness has been suggested through studies of the long-shelf life delayed fruit deterioration (dfd) tomato genotype.
Researchers tested the hypothesis that dynamic cuticle properties and composition affect tomato fruit transpiration and firmness and are influenced by environmental water availability, using dfd and two normally softening fruit cultivars, Ailsa Craig (AC) and M82, grown under control and water stress (WS) conditions. The effect of WS was also assessed following fruit detachment.
WS increased fruit firmness, cuticle load, and the expression of cuticle biosynthetic genes, while reducing cuticle permeability and fruit transpiration rate in AC and M82, but not in dfd fruit.
The study supports a direct relationship between fruit cuticle properties, transpiration and firmness, and provides insights into the adaptation of tomato genotypes to environments where water can be scarce.