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Article|03 Aug 2021|OPEN
Direct evidence for dynamics of cell heterogeneity in watercored apples: turgor-associated metabolic modifications and within-fruit water potential gradient unveiled by single-cell analyses
Hiroshi Wada1,2, Keisuke Nakata2, Hiroshi Nonami1, Rosa Erra-Balsells3, Yuto Hatakeyam1, Fukuyo Tanaka4 & Miho Tatsuki5
1The United Graduate School of Agricultural Sciences, Ehime University, Matsuyama, Ehime, Japan
2Graduate School of Agriculture, Ehime University, Matsuyama, Ehime, Japan
3Department of Organic Chemistry and CIHIDECAR (CONICET), University of Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina
4Research Center for Advanced Analysis, National Agriculture and Food Research Organization, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan
5Institute of Fruit Tree and Tea Science, National Agriculture and Food Research Organization, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan

Horticulture Research 8,
Article number: 187 (2021)
doi: 10.1038/hortres.2021.187
Views: 26

Received: 08 Feb 2021
Revised: 30 Apr 2021
Accepted: 07 Jun 2021
Published online: 03 Aug 2021


Watercore is a physiological disorder in apple (Malus × domestica Borkh.) fruits that appears as water-soaked tissues adjacent to the vascular core, although there is little information on what exactly occurs at cell level in the watercored apples, particularly from the viewpoint of cell water relations. By combining picolitre pressure-probe electrospray-ionization mass spectrometry (picoPPESI-MS) with freezing point osmometry and vapor pressure osmometry, changes in cell water status and metabolisms were spatially assayed in the same fruit. In the watercored fruit, total soluble solid was lower in the watercore region than the normal outer parenchyma region, but there was no spatial difference in the osmotic potentials determined with freezing point osmometry. Importantly, a disagreement between the osmotic potentials determined with two methods has been observed in the watercore region, indicating the presence of significant volatile compounds in the cellular fluids collected. In the watercored fruit, cell turgor varied across flesh, and a steeper water potential gradient has been established from the normal outer parenchyma region to the watercore region, retaining the potential to transport water to the watercore region. Site-specific analysis using picoPPESI-MS revealed that together with a reduction in turgor, remarkable metabolic modifications through fermentation have occurred at the border, inducing greater production of watercore-related volatile compounds, such as alcohols and esters, compared with other regions. Because alcohols including ethanol have low reflection coefficients, it is very likely that these molecules would have rapidly penetrated membranes to accumulate in apoplast to fill. In addition to the water potential gradient detected here, this would physically contribute to the appearance with high tissue transparency and changes in colour differences. Therefore, it is concluded that these spatial changes in cell water relations are closely associated with watercore symptoms as well as with metabolic alterations.