Article ID: OKD-150
Calcium is widely accepted as the main factor responsible for blossom-end rot (BER) appearance in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) fruit. However, reactive oxygen species (ROS), which can damage plant tissues have also been proposed to initiate BER appearance in tomatoes and other fruit-bearing vegetables. Ascorbate, the major antioxidant in tomato fruit, is generally lower during green fruit development, which corresponds to the stage of BER appearance. Accordingly, one hypothesis is that tomato cultivars with a lower susceptibility to BER under salt stress have higher ascorbate contents and thus better control of ROS levels. In this study, to clarify the relationship between BER incidence and oxidative stress, two BER resistant cultivars, ‘Managua RZ’ and ‘House Momotaro’ and one BER-susceptible cultivar ‘Reiyoh’, were cultivated under salinity or standard nutrient solution (control) conditions. Calcium, potassium, magnesium, total hydro-soluble antioxidants, and ascorbate concentrations were measured in the distal pericarp 1 to 2 days prior to symptom appearance and during symptom appearance in healthy and affected fruits. When salt stress was applied, only BER-resistant cultivars showed a significant increase in ascorbate contents prior to BER appearance as compared with their levels under the control condition. In contrast, pre-BER Ca2+ concentrations did not associate with the BER susceptibility of each cultivar. Interestingly, ‘Reiyoh’ showed much higher K+/Ca2+ and (K++Mg2+)/Ca2+ ratios than the two other cultivars in healthy fruits due to a strong tendency towards lowered Ca2+ concentrations. A similar tendency was also observed in apple “bitter pit”. The ability to increase the fruit antioxidant capacity and maintain mineral balance under salt stress conditions may explain the resistance to BER development in highly resistant cultivars, probably by the avoidance of oxidative-induced cell necrosis and stabilization of the cell membranes, respectively.