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Respiration of Fruits

    Naturevolume 134page766 (1934) | Download Citation



    IN his Friday evening discourse on November 9 at the Royal Institution, Dr. Franklin Kidd discussed the respiration of fruits. The lecture opened with a number of demonstrations illustrating the way in which oxygen enters fruits and carbon dioxide escapes from them in the process of respiration. Failure of the mechanism for the escape of carbon dioxide is considered as the possible cause of bitter pit, a disease which is responsible for great losses to orchard ists. The changes in respiratory activity throughout the life of a typical fruit such as the apple were then described and corresponding changes in chemical constitution of the fruit considered. The conclusion arrived at is that the primary sugar which forms the basis of respiratory oxidations is the active or gamma form of fructose. Attention was then given to the sudden rise in respiratory activity which occurs at maturity and upon which ripening depends. This change, called the climacteric, prob ably occurs when the acidity of the fruit falls to a certain point, and can be delayed by keeping the fruit in the presence of carbon dioxide. Oxygen is also necessary for the change. After the climacteric, the fruits begin to produce odours, and if these are not allowed to escape freely, fruits become injured. The injuries due to this cause are responsible for the large amount of wastage in fruit storage. The recent discovery that ripening fruits produce a toxic sub stance which is probably ethylene was discussed. Unripe fruits exposed to the vapour of ripe fruits are stimulated to begin ripening at once. The inter mediate stages in the oxidation of sugars in respira tion were discussed. In the absence of oxygen the climacteric change which initiates ripening does not occur. The storage life of fruits can be lengthened by treatments which reduce their respiratory activity, such, for example, as certain manurial treatments in the orchard and the storage of fruit in atmospheres rich in carbon dioxide and poor in oxygen.

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