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Plant sciences, sustainable farming systems and food quality

Content of carotenoids at different ripening stages in processing tomato in relation to soil water availability

Ezio Riggi A C , Cristina Patané A and Giuseppe Ruberto B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A CNR-ISAFOM Istituto per i Sistemi Agricoli e Forestali del Mediterraneo, Unità organizzativa di supporto di Catania, Str.le V. Lancia, Blocco Palma I, Zona Industriale, 95121 Catania, Italy.

B CNR-ICB Istituto di Chimica Biomolecolare, via del Santuario 110, 95028 Valverde, CT, Italy. Email:

C Corresponding author. Email:

Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 59(4) 348-353
Submitted: 7 June 2007  Accepted: 8 January 2008   Published: 8 April 2008


The influence of 2 water regimes (a fully irrigated treatment receiving 100% of evapotranspiration for the whole growing season and an unirrigated control watered up to plant establishment only) on lycopene and β-carotene accumulation during fruit ripening in a field-grown processing tomato was studied. Since a strong effect of irrigation treatments on fruit water content was expected, carotenoid content on both a fresh and dry matter basis was studied. Regardless of ripening stage and adopted parameter unit (fresh or dry matter), higher amounts of lycopene were measured in the well watered treatment. Positive and no effects of water stress were reported on β-carotene content when expressed, respectively, on a fresh and dry weight basis. Both experimental factors influenced the β-carotene/lycopene ratio mostly in the first 2 ripening stages and there is evidence to suggest that, under soil water deficit conditions, the carotenoid biosynthetic pathway is more ‘β-carotene accumulation’ oriented, especially at the beginning of the fruit ripening process.

Appropriateness of adopting both a fresh and dry basis calculation, in order to better evaluate the role of water stress on carotenoid content, is emphasised. The possibility of reducing the irrigation water supply without drastically decreasing the studied fruit quality characteristics is suggested.

Additional keywords: lycopene, β-carotene, water regime, HPLC.


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