Citrus Rind

Biochemical bases and molecular regulation of pigmentation in the peel of Citrus fruit

External colour of Citrus fruits is one of the most important quality traits and a decisive factor for consumer acceptance. Pigmentation of fruit peel is highly diverse among the different species and cultivars of the genus Citrus, ranging from the green of limes to the yellow of lemons, orange in mandarins and sweet oranges, and pink in red grapefruits. Colouration of the peel is due to the presence of two main pigments: chlorophylls which provide green colour, and carotenoids, which are responsible for the characteristic colouration of mature fruits of most species and cultivars. Anthocyanins are a third group of pigments, providing a red to purple tint, in a specific group, blood oranges, and mainly restricted to the flesh. Chlorophylls and carotenoids are isoprenoid-derived pigments, synthesized and accumulated in plastids and, therefore, changes in these compounds during natural ripening are driven by the transformation of chloroplasts into chromoplasts. Most of the structural genes involved in chlorophylls and carotenoids metabolism have been characterized in Citrus, concluding that content and composition of these pigments are mostly genetically determined, and highly regulated at the transcriptional level.