Examining preharvest genetic and morphological factors contributing to lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) shelf-life

Sci Rep. 2024 Mar 19;14(1):6618. doi: 10.1038/s41598-024-55037-1.


Lettuce is a highly perishable horticultural crop with a relatively short shelf-life that limits its commercial value and contributes to food waste. Postharvest senescence varies with influences of both environmental and genetic factors. From a larger pool of romaine lettuce genotypes, we identified three genotypes with variable shelf lives and evaluated their leaf morphology characteristics and transcriptomic profiles at preharvest to predict postharvest quality. Breeding line 60184 had the shortest shelf-life (SSL), cultivar 'Manatee' had an intermediate shelf-life (ISL), and 'Okeechobee' had the longest shelf-life (LSL). We observed significantly larger leaf lamina thickness and higher stomatal index in the SSL genotypes relative to the LSL cultivar. To identify molecular indicators of shelf-life, we used a transcriptional approach between two of the contrasting genotypes, breeding line 60184 and cultivar 'Okeechobee' at preharvest. We identified 552 upregulated and 315 downregulated differentially expressed genes between the genotypes, from which 27% of them had an Arabidopsis thaliana ortholog previously characterized as senescence associated genes (SAGs). Notably, we identified several SAGs including several related to jasmonate ZIM-domain jasmonic acid signaling, chlorophyll a-b binding, and cell wall modification including pectate lyases and expansins. This study presented an innovative approach for identifying preharvest molecular factors linked to postharvest traits for prolonged shelf.

Keywords: Breeding; Cultivars; Postharvest; Pre-harvest; Senescence-associated genes; Shelf-life.

MeSH terms

  • Chlorophyll A
  • Food
  • Lactuca* / genetics
  • Plant Breeding
  • Refuse Disposal*


  • Chlorophyll A