Light-Controlled Fruit Pigmentation and Flavor Volatiles in Tomato and Bell Pepper

Antioxidants (Basel). 2019 Dec 23;9(1):14. doi: 10.3390/antiox9010014.


Light is a major environmental factor affecting the regulation of secondary metabolites, such as pigments and flavor. The Solanaceae plant family has diverse patterns of fruit metabolisms that serve as suitable models to understand the molecular basis of its regulation across species. To investigate light-dependent regulation for fruit pigmentation and volatile flavors, major fruit pigments, their biosynthetic gene expression, and volatiles were analyzed in covered fruits of tomato and bell pepper. Immature covered fruits were found to be ivory in color and no chlorophyll was detected in both plants. The total carotenoid content was found to be reduced in ripe tomato and bell pepper under cover. Naringenin chalcone decreased more than 7-fold in ripe tomato and total flavonoids decreased about 10-fold in immature and ripe pepper fruit under light deficiency. Light positively impacts fruit pigmentation in tomato and bell pepper by regulating gene expression in carotenoid and flavonoid biosynthesis, especially phytoene synthase and chalcone synthase, respectively. Nineteen volatile flavors were detected, and seven of these exhibited light-dependent regulations for both ripe tomato and pepper. This study will help in improving fruit quality and aid future research works to understand the molecular mechanisms regulating the influence of light-dependency on pigments and flavor volatiles.

Keywords: carotenoid; flavonoid; flavor volatile; fruit ripening; light; pepper; tomato.