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Abstract

Abstract Fruit quality is closely related to the structure of the fruit peel, especially the epidermis and cuticle which form a barrier between its internal and external environments. This study used light, scanning and transmission elec-tron microscopy to examine changes in the epidermal structures of fruits of the Polish apple cultivar Malus domestica Borkh. cv. Ligol at three maturity stages. The single-layered epidermis was covered with cuticle and crystalline wax platelets. In the fruit set stage the fruit surface exhibited numerous nonglandular trichomes, stomata, microcracks and crystalline wax platelets. The surface of fruits at harvest and after 6-month controlled-atmosphere storage exhibited lenticels and horizontally or vertically oriented wax platelets. During fruit devel-opment there was an increase in epidermal cuticle thickness and a reduction in epidermal cell convexity and number of lenticels. After the storage period fruit weight declined, microcracks deepened and widened, and cuticular waxes accumulated. The cuticle was made up of two layers, lamellar and reticulate. In successive fruit development stages the width of the lamellar layer increased considerably. In the fruit set and harvest maturity stages the epidermal cells contained numerous mitochondria and plastids with starch grains. After the storage period there were fewer amyloplasts and the cell vacuoles contained flocculent residue and dark deposits.
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