Pectin methylesterases induce an abrupt increase of acidic pectin during strawberry fruit ripening

Mallory Draye, Pierre Van Cutsem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The decrease of strawberry (Fragariaxananassa Duch.) fruit firmness observed during ripening is partly attributed to pectolytic enzymes: polygalacturonases, pectate lyases and pectin methylesterases (PMEs). In this study, PME activity and pectin content and esterification degree were measured in cell walls from ripening fruits. Small green, large green, white, turning, red and over-ripe fruits from the Elsanta cultivar were analyzed. Using the 2F4 antibody directed against the calcium-induced egg box conformation of pectin, we show that calcium-bound acidic pectin was nearly absent from green and white fruits, but increased abruptly at the turning stage, while the total pectin content decreased only slightly as maturation proceeded. Isoelectrofocalisation performed on wall protein extracts revealed the expression of at least six different basic PME isoforms. Maximum PME activity was detected in green fruits and steadily decreased to reach a minimum in senescent fruits. The preliminary role of PMEs and subsequent pectin degradation by pectolytic enzymes is discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1152-60
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of plant physiology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2008


  • Pectins
  • Carboxylic Ester Hydrolases
  • Esterification
  • Acids
  • Isoenzymes
  • Fruit
  • Fragaria
  • Isoelectric Focusing


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