Ensuring the availability of high quality apples is important from a human health perspective as: 1) consumption of fresh fruit has been shown to play a role in disease prevention; and 2) accessibility helps to promote food security. Texture is an important parameter that determines the eating quality of apples. This work examined apple cell wall metabolism from the fruitlet through the ripening stage of development for different apple cultivars, including Gala, Aurora, and Splendour, with the aim of defining the relationships between these differences and textural quality. The yields and chemical composition of polysaccharides extracted from cell walls of the apple fruits at various developmental stages were determined and the activities of β-galactosidase and α-arabinofuranosidase enzymes were assessed. The textural quality of the mature and stored apples was measured using the Mohr Digi-Test Penetrometer and scanning confocal laser microscopy coupled with image analysis was used to assess microstructural differences. The apple cultivars at different developmental stages exhibited differences in yields and composition of cell wall polysaccharides along with enzyme activities. These biochemical differences at early developmental stages were significantly correlated with textural quality upon storage. Monitoring biochemical changes during the development of cell walls in context with textural and microstructural differences supports a targeted approach for conventional apple breeding. This will ultimately ensure the provision of new apple cultivars with excellent quality at harvest and upon storage and ensure availability of a high quality and healthy food.
Food, Nutrition, and Health
Kelly A. Ross
-, -, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Reserach Scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada at the Summerland Research and Development Centre; research interest in food quality in terms of ensuring value and health and wellness of Canadian horticultural products.