Modification of carotenoid levels by abscission agents and expression of carotenoid biosynthetic genes in 'valencia' sweet orange

J Agric Food Chem. 2013 Mar 27;61(12):3082-9. doi: 10.1021/jf305359x. Epub 2013 Mar 18.


The effect of 5-chloro-3-methyl-4-nitro-1H-pyrazole (CMNP) and ethephon on peel color, flavedo carotenoid gene expression, and carotenoid accumulation was investigated in mature 'Valencia' orange ( Citrus sinensis L. Osbeck) fruit flavedo at three maturation stages. Abscission agent application altered peel color. CMNP was more effective than ethephon in promoting green-to-red (a) and blue-to-yellow (b) color at the middle and late maturation stages and total carotenoid changes at all maturation stages. Altered flow of carotenoid precursors during maturation due to abscission agents was suggested by changes in phytoene desaturase (Pds) and ζ-carotene desaturase (Zds) gene expression. However, each abscission agent affected downstream expression differentially. Ethephon application increased β-carotene hydroxilase (β-Chx) transcript accumulation 12-fold as maturation advanced from the early to middle and late stages. CMNP markedly increased β- and ε-lycopene cyclase (Lcy) transcript accumulation 45- and 15-fold, respectively, at midmaturation. Patterns of carotenoid accumulation in flavedo were supported in part by gene expression changes. CMNP caused greater accumulation of total flavedo carotenoids at all maturation stages when compared with ethephon or controls. In general, CMNP treatment increased total red carotenoids more than ethephon or the control but decreased total yellow carotenoids at each maturation stage. In control fruit flavedo, total red carotenoids increased and yellow carotenoids decreased as maturation progressed. Trends in total red carotenoids during maturation were consistent with measured a values. Changes in carotenoid accumulation and expression patterns in flavedo suggest that regulation of carotenoid accumulation is under transcriptional, translational, and post-translational control.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carotenoids / analysis
  • Carotenoids / biosynthesis*
  • Carotenoids / genetics
  • Citrus sinensis / genetics*
  • Citrus sinensis / metabolism
  • Fruit / chemistry
  • Fruit / genetics*
  • Gene Expression / drug effects*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Organophosphorus Compounds / pharmacology*
  • Plant Growth Regulators / pharmacology
  • Pyrazoles / pharmacology*


  • Organophosphorus Compounds
  • Plant Growth Regulators
  • Pyrazoles
  • Carotenoids
  • 5-chloro-3-methyl-4-nitro-1H-pyrazole
  • ethephon