Fruit-Pathogen Interactions

Ripening-related Susceptibility to Fungal Pathogens

During ripening, fleshy fruit undergo biochemical and physiological changes that result in the organoleptic and nutritional qualities used to market the ripe fruit as consumable post-harvest products. However, some ripening processes, such as textural changes, contribute to the enhanced susceptibility of ripe fruit to pathogens. Ripe tomato fruit are particularly susceptible to fungal pathogens, such as the ascomycete, Botrytis cinerea.  Before the onset of ripening, tomato fruit are highly resistant to Botrytis infection, whereas ripe fruit are extremely susceptible. Investigating the ripening-associated increased susceptibility of tomato fruit to B. cinerea provides novel insights for understanding plant-fungus interactions and eventually may lead to the development of efficient methods to control infections in perishable products. Our aim is to characterize the specific ripening events that promote susceptibility, in order to facilitate the development of commodities that ripen acceptably and yet are less susceptible to fungal infections.