Molecular and biochemical characterization of postharvest senescence in broccoli

Tania Page, Gareth Griffiths, Vicky Buchanan-Wollaston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Postharvest senescence in broccoli (Brassica oleracea L. var Italica) florets results in phenotypic changes similar to those seen in developmental leaf senescence. To compare these two processes in more detail, we investigated molecular and biochemical changes in broccoli florets stored at two different temperatures after harvest. We found that storage at cooler temperatures delayed the symptoms of senescence at both the biochemical and gene expression levels. Changes in key biochemical components (lipids, protein, and chlorophyll) and in gene expression patterns occurred in the harvested tissue well before any visible signs of senescence were detected. Using previously identified senescence-enhanced genes and also newly isolated, differentially expressed genes, we found that the majority of these showed a similar enhancement of expression in postharvest broccoli as in developmental leaf senescence. At the biochemical level, a rapid loss of membrane fatty acids was detected after harvest, when stored at room temperature. However, there was no corresponding increase in levels of lipid peroxidation products. This, together with an increased expression of protective antioxidant genes, indicated that, in the initial stages of postharvest senescence, an orderly dismantling of the cellular constituents occurs, using the available lipid as an energy source. Postharvest changes in broccoli florets, therefore, show many similarities to the processes of developmental leaf senescence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)718-727
Number of pages10
JournalPlant Physiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2001


Dive into the research topics of 'Molecular and biochemical characterization of postharvest senescence in broccoli'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this