Abstract Brown protective skin formation in onion bulbs can be induced by rapid postharvest heat treatment. Onions that were peeled to different depths and were exposed to heat stress showed that only the outer scale formed dry brown skin, whereas the inner scales maintained high water content and did not change color. Our results reveal that browning of the outer scale during heat treatment is due to an enzymatic process that is associated with high levels of oxidation components, such as peroxidase and quercetin glucoside. De-novo transcriptome analysis revealed differential molecular responses of the outer and inner scales to the heat stress. Genes involved in lipid metabolism, oxidation pathways and cell-wall modification were highly expressed in the outer scale during heating. Defense-response-related genes such as those encoding heat-shock proteins, antioxidative stress defense or production of osmoprotectant metabolites were mostly induced in the inner scale in response to the heat exposure. These transcriptomic data led to a conceptual model that suggests sequential processes for browning development and desiccation of the outer scales versus processes associated with defense response and heat tolerance in the inner scale. Thus, the observed physiological differences between the outer and inner scales is supported by the identified molecular differences. curing, defense response, heat tolerance, heat treatment, onion scale, oxidation, tissue browning, transcriptome © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Experimental Biology. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Journal of Experimental Botany – Oxford University Press
Published: May 18, 2018
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