Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Applied Botany, South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, No.723 Xingke Road, Tianhe District, Guangzhou 510650, China. Electronic address: [Email]
The pericarp browning is an important physiological index during the postharvest storage, which seriously shortens the shelf-life of litchi fruit. In this study, the browning index of four litchi cultivars were compared, and the shelf-life, from longer to shorter, was 'Feizixiao (FXZ)', 'Jingganghongnuo (JGHN)', 'Huaizhi (HZ)' and 'Nuomici (NMC)', respectively. Then, comparative metabolomics were performed in the pericarp of four litchi cultivars during browning. Finding results showed that a total of 119 kinds of metabolites were detected in litchi pericarp, including 30 kinds of primary metabolites, 44 kinds of volatile compounds, 29 kinds of free amino acids and 16 kinds of hydrolytic amino acids. After ANOVA and OPLS-DA, 52 kinds of metabolites were important with predictive VIP > 1 and p < 0.05. In FZX pericarp, the contents of many amino acids increased significantly, which might be related to the yellow-green pericarp and play an important role in delaying browning. In the pericarp of JGHN, NMC and HZ, a great number of soluble sugars and some free amino acids were induced during browning, which was negatively correlated with the browning speed of three red pericarp cultivars. The browning induced a large number of sesquiterpenes in the pericarp of FZX, NMC and HZ, which was positively correlated with the browning index. In addition, the correlation analysis showed that the amino acids were negatively correlated with the volatile compounds, suggesting that pericarp browning could induce the conversion of metabolic products from amino acids to terpenes.