Biochemistry and cell wall changes associated with noni (Morinda citrifolia L.) fruit ripening.
Quality and compositional changes were determined in noni fruit harvested at five ripening stages, from dark-green to thaslucent-grayish. Fruit ripening was accompanied by acidity and soluble solids accumulation but pH diminution, whereas the softening profile presented three differential steps named early (no significant softening), intermediate (significant softening), and final (dramatic softening). At early step the extensive depolymerization of hydrosoluble pectins and the significantly increment of pectinase activities did not correlate with the slight reduction in firmness. The intermediate step showed an increment of pectinases and hemicellulases activities. The final step was accompanied by the most significant reduction in the yield of alcohol-insoluble solids as well as in the composition of uronic acids and neutral sugars; pectinases increased their activity and depolymerization of hemicellulosic fractions occurred. Noni ripening is a process conducted by the coordinated action of pectinases and hemicellulases that promote the differential disassembly of cell wall polymers.