Journal Article

Effect of anthocyanins, carotenoids, and flavonols on chlorophyll fluorescence excitation spectra in apple fruit: signature analysis, assessment, modelling, and relevance to photoprotection

Mark N. Merzlyak, Thor Bernt Melø and K. Razi Naqvi

in Journal of Experimental Botany

Published on behalf of Society for Experimental Biology

Volume 59, issue 2, pages 349-359
Published in print February 2008 | ISSN: 0022-0957
Published online February 2008 | e-ISSN: 1460-2431 | DOI:

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Whole apple fruit (Malus domestica Borkh.) widely differing in pigment content and composition has been examined by recording its chlorophyll fluorescence excitation and diffuse reflection spectra in the visible and near UV regions. Spectral bands sensitive to the pigment concentration have been identified, and linear models for non-destructive assessment of anthocyanins, carotenoids, and flavonols via chlorophyll fluorescence measurements are put forward. The adaptation of apple fruit to high light stress involves accumulation of these protective pigments, which absorb solar radiation in broad spectral ranges extending from UV to the green and, in anthocyanin-containing cultivars, to the red regions of the spectrum. In ripening apples the protective effect in the blue region could be attributed to extrathylakoid carotenoids. A simple model, which allows the simulation of chlorophyll fluorescence excitation spectra in the visible range and a quantitative evaluation of competitive absorption by anthocyanins, carotenoids, and flavonols, is described. Evidence is presented to support the view that anthocyanins, carotenoids, and flavonols play, in fruit with low-to-moderate pigment content, the role of internal traps (insofar as they compete with chlorophylls for the absorption of incident light in specific spectral bands), affecting thereby the shape of the chlorophyll fluorescence excitation spectrum.

Keywords: Anthocyanins; apple fruit; carotenoids; chlorophyll; flavonols; fluorescence; photoprotection

Journal Article.  6975 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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