L-ascorbate (ASC) is essential for human health. Therefore, there is interest in increasing the ASC content of crops like tomato. High irradiance induces accumulation of ASC in green tomato fruits. The D-mannose/L-galactose biosynthetic pathway accounts for the most ASC in plants. The myo-inositol and galacturonate pathways have been proposed to exist but never identified in plants. The D-mannose/L-galactose starts from D-glucose. In a series of experiments, we tested the hypothesis that ASC levels depend on soluble carbohydrate content when tomato fruits ripen under irradiances that stimulate ASC biosynthesis. We show that ASC levels considerably increased when fruits ripened under light, but carbohydrate levels did not show a parallel increase. When carbohydrate levels in fruits were altered by flower pruning, no effects on ASC levels were observed at harvest or after ripening under irradiances that induce ASC accumulation. Artificial feeding of trusses with sucrose increased carbohydrate levels, but did not affect the light-induced ASC levels. We conclude that light-induced accumulation of ASC is independent of the carbohydrate content in tomato fruits. In tomato fruit treated with light, the increase in ASC was preceded by a concomitant increase in myo-inositol.
Keywords: ascorbic acid; carbohydrates; galacturonate; irradiance; myo-inositol; vitamin C.