Functional Plant Biology Functional Plant Biology Society
Plant function and evolutionary biology

Development of fruit cuticle in cherry tomato (Solanum lycopersicum)

Eva Domínguez A , Gloria López-Casado B C , Jesús Cuartero A and Antonio Heredia B D
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Estación Experimental ‘La Mayora’ (CSIC) Algarrobo-Costa, E-29750 Málaga, Spain.

B Departamento de Biología Molecular y Bioquímica, Universidad de Málaga, E-29071 Málaga, Spain.

C Present address: Department of Plant Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.

D Corresponding author. Email:

Functional Plant Biology 35(5) 403-411
Submitted: 25 January 2008  Accepted: 6 May 2008   Published: 11 July 2008


The cuticle of a plant plays an important role in many physiological events of fruit development and ripening. Despite this, little is known about cuticle formation and development. We include a detailed morphological study at the microscopic level of cuticle during fruit growth and ripening using tomato as a fruit model. In addition, a study of the differences in cuticle thickness and composition during development is included. The four genotypes studied in this work showed a similar timing of the main morphological events: initiation of epidermal differentiation, changes in the distribution of the lipid, pectin and cellulose material within the cuticle, appearance of pegs, beginning of cuticle invaginations, maximum thickness and loss of polysaccharidic material. Fruit growth, measured by fruit diameter, showed a positive correlation with the increase of cuticle thickness and the amount of cuticle and their cutin and polysaccharide components per fruit unit during development. By contrast, cuticle waxes showed a different behaviour. Two important characteristics of cuticle growth were observed during tomato fruit development. First, the amount of cuticle per surface area reached its maximum in the first 15 days after anthesis and remained more or less constant until ripening. Second, there was a significant loss of polysaccharidic material from the beginning of ripening (breaker stage) to full red ripe.

Additional keywords: cuticle components, cuticle growth, cutin, epidermis morphology, tomato fruit.


The authors thank Dr R. Fernández-Muñoz for critical reading the manuscript and Ana Rico for technical assistance. This work has been partially supported by grant AGL2006–12494 from Plan Nacional de I+D, Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia, Spain, Fundación Cajamar and Rijk Zwaan Iberica (Almería, Spain).


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