Boost Fund: Ripening delay of climateric fruits by peptides

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Post-harvest losses, including product deterioration, of food produced for human consumption are estimated to reach up to 50 percent. Hence, additional and better methods to delay ripening and prevent spoilage of fruits and vegetables are of high political, economic, and social importance. Recently, a novel way to interfere with fruit ripening based on a yet unknown function of the nuclear localization signal, NLS for short, in the ethylene signaling protein EIN2 has been uncovered. Peptides mimicking this NLS motif were shown to affect ethylene response in planta and, thus, have the potential to reduce diverse ethylene-specific developmental processes in plants such as the triple response or fruit ripening. We aim at improving and exploiting these natural, ripening-delaying peptides by an integrated approach addressing the molecular understanding of interactions of the peptides with the ethylene receptor, the redesign of the peptides for tailored interactions, the delivery of peptides in terms of peptide containers with reversible binding to fruit/vegetable surfaces, and the pre- and postharvest application to apples and tomatoes. We envisage that our approach will lead to a conceptually novel route to control plant ethylene responses that does not rely on using post-harvest chemicals or transgenic plants.

The scientific activities of the Bioeconomy Science Center were financially supported by the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Resesarch within the framework of the NRW Strategieprojekt BioSC (No. 313/323‐400‐002 13).