Pectin modifications and the role of pectin-degrading enzymes during postharvest softening of Jonagold apples

Sunny George Gwanpua, Sandy Van Buggenhout, Bert E. Verlinden, Stefanie Christiaens, Avi Shpigelman, Victor Vicent, Zahra Jamsazzadeh Kermani, Bart M. Nicolai, Marc Hendrickx, Annemie Geeraerd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study aimed at understanding softening in Jonagold apple (Malus × domestica Borkh.) fruits, by investigating pectin modifications and the evolution of pectin-modifying enzymes during postharvest storage and ripening. Jonagold apples were harvested at commercial maturity and stored at different temperatures and controlled atmosphere conditions for 6 months, followed by exposure to ambient shelf life conditions (20 C under air) for 2 weeks. The composition of the pectic material was analysed. Furthermore, the firmness and the ethylene production of the apples were assessed. Generally, the main changes in pectin composition associated with the loss of firmness during ripening in Jonagold apples were a loss of side chains neutral sugars, increased water solubility and decreased molar mass. Also, the activities of four important enzymes possibly involved in apple softening, β-galactosidase, α-arabinofuranosidase, polygalacturonase and pectin methylesterase, were measured. Pectin-related enzyme activities highly correlated with ethylene production, but not always with pectin modifications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-291
Number of pages9
JournalFood Chemistry
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell wall-modifying enzymes
  • Controlled atmosphere
  • Firmness
  • Malus × domestica
  • Pectin

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Food Science


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