The increase of L-Ascorbic Acid (AsA) content in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) is a common goal in breeding programs due to its beneficial effect on human health. To shed light into the regulation of fruit AsA content, we exploited a Solanum pennellii introgression line (IL12-4-SL) harbouring one quantitative trait locus that increases the content of total AsA in the fruit. Biochemical and transcriptomic analyses were carried out in fruits of IL12-4-SL in comparison with the cultivated line M82 at different stages of ripening. AsA content was studied in relation with pectin methylesterase (PME) activity and the degree of pectin methylesterification (DME). Our results indicated that the increase of AsA content in IL12-4-SL fruits was related with pectin de-methylesterification/degradation. Specific PME, polygalacturonase (PG) and UDP-D-glucuronic-acid-4-epimerase (UGlcAE) isoforms were proposed as components of the D-galacturonate pathway leading to AsA biosynthesis. The relationship between AsA content and PME activity was also exploited in PMEI tobacco plants expressing a specific PME inhibitor (PMEI). Here we report that tobacco PMEI plants, altered in PME activity and degree of pectin methylesterification, showed a reduction in low methylesterified pectic domains and exhibited a reduced AsA content. Overall, our results provide novel biochemical and genetic traits for increasing antioxidant content by marker-assisted selection in the Solanaceae family.
Rigano, M. M., Lionetti, V., Raiola, A., Bellincampi, D., & Barone, A. (2018). Pectic enzymes as potential enhancers of ascorbic acid production through the D-galacturonate pathway in Solanaceae. Plant Science, 266, 55–63. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.plantsci.2017.10.013