Abscisic acid (ABA) is a key signaling molecule promoting ripening of non‐climacteric fruits such as sweet cherry (Prunus avium L.). To shed light on the role of other hormones on fruit development, ripening and anthocyanin production, the synthetic auxin 1‐naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA) was applied to sweet cherry trees during the straw‐color stage of fruit development. NAA-treated fruits exhibited higher concentrations of 1‐aminocyclopropane‐1‐carboxylic acid (ACC) and ABA‐glucose ester (ABA‐GE), which are a precursor of ethylene and a primary storage form of ABA, respectively. Consistent with these observations, transcript levels of genes encoding ACC synthase and ACC oxidase, both involved in ethylene biosynthesis, were increased after 6 days of NAA treat-ment, and both ABA concentration and expression of the regulator gene of ABA biosynthesis (NCED1 encoding 9‐cis‐epoxycarotenoid dioxygenase) were highest during early fruit ripening. In addition, transcript levels of key anthocyanin regulatory, biosynthetic and transport genes were significantly upregulated upon fruit exposure to NAA. This was accompanied by an increased an-thocyanin concentration and fruit weight whilst fruit firmness and cracking index decreased. Alto-gether our data suggest that NAA treatment alters ethylene production, which in turn induces ripening in sweet cherry and enhanced anthocyanin production, possibly through ABA metabolism. The results from our study highlight the potential to use a single NAA treatment for manipulation of cherry ripening.
- Sweet cherry (Prunus avium)