Woolliness is a physiological disorder of peaches and nectarines that becomes apparent when fruit are ripened after prolonged periods of cold storage. This disorder is of commercial importance since shipping of peaches to distant markets and storage before selling require low temperature. However, knowledge about the molecular basis of peach woolliness is still incomplete. To address this issue, a nylon macroarray containing 847 non-redundant expressed sequence tags (ESTs) from a ripe peach fruit cDNA library was developed and used. Gene expression changes of peach fruit (Prunus persica cv. O'Henry) ripened for 7 d at 21°C (juicy fruit) were compared with those of fruit stored for 15 d at 4°C and then ripened for 7 d at 21°C (woolly fruit). A total of 106 genes were found to be differentially expressed between juicy and woolly fruit. Data analysis indicated that the activity of most of these genes (>90%) was repressed in the woolly fruit. In cold-stored peaches (cv. O'Henry), the expression level of selected genes (cobra, endopolygalacturonase, cinnamoyl-CoA-reductase, and rab11) was lower than in the juicy fruit, and it remained low in woolly peaches after ripening, a pattern that was conserved in woolly fruit from two other commercial cultivars (cv. Flamekist and cv. Elegant Lady). In addition, the results of this study indicate that molecular changes during fruit woolliness involve changes in the expression of genes associated with cell wall metabolism and endomembrane trafficking. Overall, the results reported here provide an initial characterization of the transcriptome activity of peach fruit under different post-harvest treatments.
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