To investigate the role of polyamines in pre- and post-harvest fruit development of 'Akatsuki' peach (Prunus persica (L.) Batsch.) we measured polyamine concentrations, activities of polyamine biosynthetic enzymes and expression of genes encoding these enzymes. Concentrations of the free polyamines, putrescine (Put), spermidine (Spd) and spermine (Spm) in pre-harvest fruit peaked 16 days after full bloom (DAF) and then progressively decreased until harvest with the exception of Put, which showed a second peak at 94 DAF, just before the onset of ethylene production. In post-harvest fruit, minor changes in concentrations of Spd and Spm were observed, whereas Put concentration peaked on the harvest day, followed by an abrupt decrease and a subsequent 2-fold increase, which was opposite to the fluctuating pattern of ethylene production. Activities of arginine decarboxylase (ADC) and ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) peaked during the first stage of fruit development and then decreased until 80 DAF, after which the activities were below detection limits, suggesting that Put is synthesized during the early stage of fruit development. Activity of S-adenosylmethionine decarboxylase (SAMDC) decreased progressively until the end of S2. Expression levels of five putative polyamine biosynthetic genes, ADC, ODC, SAMDC, spermidine synthase (SPDS) and spermine synthase (SPMS), in pre-harvest and post-harvest fruit did not coincide precisely with the observed changes in enzymatic activities and polyamine concentrations. The possible role of polyamines during peach fruit development and the relationship between polyamines and ethylene biosynthesis are discussed.
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