Journal Article

Evidence for substantial maintenance of membrane integrity and cell viability in normally developing grape (<i>Vitis vinifera</i> L.) berries throughout development

Mark Krasnow, Mark Matthews and Ken Shackel

in Journal of Experimental Botany

Published on behalf of Society for Experimental Biology

Volume 59, issue 4, pages 849-859
Published in print March 2008 | ISSN: 0022-0957
Published online February 2008 | e-ISSN: 1460-2431 | DOI:

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Fluorescein diacetate (FDA) was used as a vital stain to assay membrane integrity (cell viability) in mesocarp tissue of the developing grape (Vitis vinifera L.) berry in order to test the hypothesis that there is a substantial loss of compartmentation in these cells during ripening. This technique was also used to determine whether loss of viability was associated with symptoms of a ripening disorder known as berry shrivel. FDA fluorescence of berry cells was rapid, bright, and stable for over 1 h at room temperature. Confocal microscopy detected FDA staining through two to three intact surface cell layers (300–400 μm) of bisected berries, and showed that the fluorescence was confined to the cytoplasm, indicating the maintenance of integrity in both cytoplasmic as well as vacuolar membranes, and the presence of active cytoplasmic esterases. FDA clearly discriminated between living cells and freeze-killed cells, and exhibited little, if any, non-specific staining. Propidium iodide and DAPI, both widely used to assess cell viability, were unable to discriminate between living and freeze-killed cells, and did not specifically stain the nuclei of dead cells. For normally developing berries under field conditions there was no evidence of viability loss until about 40 d after veraison, and the majority (80%) of mesocarp cells remained viable past commercial harvest (26 °Brix). These results are inconsistent with current models of grape berry development which hypothesize that veraison is associated with a general loss of compartmentation in mesocarp cells. The observed viability loss was primarily in the locule area around the seeds, suggesting that a localized loss of viability and compartmentation may occur as part of normal fruit development. The cell viability of berry shrivel-affected berries was similar to that of normally developing berries until the onset of visible symptoms (i.e. shrivelling), at which time viability declined in visibly shrivelled berries. Berries with extensive shrivelling exhibited very low cell viability (15%).

Keywords: Apoplast; berry shrivel; compartmentation; DAPI; FDA; fluorescence; fruit ripening; locule; propidium iodide

Journal Article.  5774 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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