Application of Ureides-class compounds protects plants from stress related senescence, effectively extending the shelf-life of vegetables, fruit, leafy greens, cut branches and flowers.
Plants suffer damage from factors such as oxidative stress, premature senescence and chlorophyll degradation. All of the above can impact the freshness of produce from harvest to end-consumer. Researchers at the Weizmann Institute found that under certain stress conditions model plants produce Ureides, shown to have a protective role. Unexpectedly, this protection can also be achieved by the exogenous application to plants or plant parts post-harvest.
This innovative technique to preserve and prolong the shelf-life of fresh produce is clean, organic and cost-effective. In addition, engineered strains with altered Ureides metabolism can prove more resistant to stress related senescence.
- Post-harvest protection of produce via
- Exogenous application (spray on leaves, add to roots etc.).
- Incorporation in packaging (e.g. embedded in plastic film).
- Treatment of both aging and light-deprivation in plants
- Readily available and easily applied, does not require expertise to protect produce
- Organic, clean, biodegradable materials.
Prof. Robert Fluhr and his team found that in wild-type plants conditions of extended darkness or increasing leaf age caused induction of transcripts related to purine catabolism, resulting in marked accumulation of Ureides. In contrast, Arabidopsis mutants of XDH, Atxdh1, accumulated the Ureides precursor (Xanthine) and showed premature senescence symptoms such as enhanced chlorophyll degradation, extensive cell death and upregulation of senescence-related transcripts.
The level of plant reactive oxygen species (ROS) and mortality can be attenuated by the addition of Ureides, suggesting that these metabolites can act as scavengers of ROS. The results highlighted that the regulation of Ureides levels by Atxdh1 has implications for optimal plant survival during nutrient remobilization, such as occurs during normal growth, dark stress and senescence.