Higher levels of irradiance result in higher accumulation of ascorbate in leaves and fruits. Photosynthesis and respiration are an integral part of the physiological mechanism of light regulation of ascorbate in leaves, but little is known about the light regulation of ascorbate in fruit. The aim of this study was to investigate whether fruit illumination alone is sufficient for ascorbate increase in tomato fruit and whether this light signal is mediated by respiration and photosynthesis. First the changes of ascorbate with the progress of fruit development were investigated and subsequently detached fruit of different tomato genotypes were exposed to different irradiances and spectra. Measurements were performed on ascorbate, respiration, photosynthesis and chlorophyll content of the fruit. When attached to the plant, there was no effect of development on ascorbate from the mature green to the red stage. Detached fruit stored in darkness did not accumulate ascorbate. However, when exposed to 300–600 μmol m−2 s-1 light detached mature green fruit (photosynthetically active) substantially accumulated ascorbate, while mature red fruit (non-photosynthetically active) did not respond to light. Photosynthesis correlated with this increase of ascorbate while no correlation between respiration and ascorbate was found. Spectral effects on ascorbate in detached tomato fruit were limited. These results indicate that the signal for light regulation of ascorbate is perceived locally in the fruit and that fruit illumination alone is sufficient for a considerable increase in ascorbate levels for as long as the fruit contains chlorophyll. It is shown that photosynthetic activity of the fruit is an integral part of the response of ascorbate to light in tomato fruit. The light induced increase in ascorbate levels occurred in a range of genotypes, indicating a universal effect of light to ascorbate in tomato fruit.
- Ascorbic acid
- Vitamin C