Crack initiation and propagation in sweet cherry skin: A simple chain reaction causes the crack to ‘run’

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Schumann, Christine; Winkler, Andreas; Brüggenwirth, Martin et al.: Crack initiation and propagation in sweet cherry skin: A simple chain reaction causes the crack to ‘run’. In: PLoS ONE 14 (2019), Nr. 7, e0219794. DOI:

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Rain cracking severely affects the commercial production of many fleshy-fruit species, including of sweet cherries. The objectives were to investigate how the gaping macroscopic cracks (macrocracks) of a rain-cracked fruit can develop from microscopic cracks in the cuticle (microcracks). Incubating fruit in deionized water is well known to cause significant macrocracking. We found that after a lag phase of 2 h, the numbers and lengths of macrocracks increased. Macrocrack number approached an asymptote at 12 h, whereas macrocrack length continued to increase. The rate of macrocrack propagation (extension at the crack tip) was initially 10.8 mm h-1 but then decreased to a near-constant 0.5 mm h-1. Light microscopy revealed three characteristic zones along a developing macrocrack. In zone I (ahead of the crack), the cuticle was intact, the epidermal cells were unbroken and their cell walls were thin. In zone II, the cuticle was fractured, the first epidermal cells died and their cell walls began to thicken (swell). In zone III, most epidermal cells had died, their cell walls were swollen and cell:cell separation began along the middle lamellae. The thickness of the anticlinal epidermal cell walls and the percentage of intact living cells along a crack were closely and negatively related. Cracks were stained by calcofluor white, but there was no binding of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) specific for hemicelluloses (LM11, LM21, LM25). Strong binding was obtained with the anti-homogalacturonan mAb (LM19), indicating the presence of unesterified homogalacturonans on the crack surface. We conclude that macrocrack propagation is related to cell death and to cell wall swelling. Cell wall swelling weakens the cell:cell adhesion between neighbouring epidermal cells, which separate along their middle lamellae. The skin macrocrack propagates like a ‘run’ in a fine, knitted fabric. © 2019 Schumann et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
License of this version: CC BY 4.0 Unported
Document Type: article
Publishing status: publishedVersion
Issue Date: 2019
Appears in Collections:Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät

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