Evolutionary recycling of light signaling components in fleshy fruits: new insights on the role of pigments to monitor ripening

Briardo Llorente*, Lucio D’Andrea, Manuel Rodríguez-Concepción

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)
35 Downloads (Pure)


Besides an essential source of energy, light provides environmental information to plants. Photosensory pathways are thought to have occurred early in plant evolution, probably at the time of the Archaeplastida ancestor, or perhaps even earlier. Manipulation of individual components of light perception and signaling networks in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) affects the metabolism of ripening fruit at several levels. Most strikingly, recent experiments have shown that some of the molecular mechanisms originally devoted to sense and respond to environmental light cues have been re-adapted during evolution to provide plants with useful information on fruit ripening progression. In particular, the presence of chlorophylls in green fruit can strongly influence the spectral composition of the light filtered through the fruit pericarp. The concomitant changes in light quality can be perceived and transduced by phytochromes (PHYs) and PHY-interacting factors, respectively, to regulate gene expression and in turn modulate the production of carotenoids, a family of metabolites that are relevant for the final pigmentation of ripe fruits. We raise the hypothesis that the evolutionary recycling of light-signaling components to finely adjust pigmentation to the actual ripening stage of the fruit may have represented a selective advantage for primeval fleshy-fruited plants even before the extinction of dinosaurs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number263
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Issue numberMAR2016
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2016. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Evolution
  • Fleshy fruits
  • Light
  • Photosensory pathways
  • Ripening


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