Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Rotting Fruit
Name: Ross J.
Status: Student
Age: 15
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2002


Question:
What exactly makes fruit rot?



Replies:
The goal of a fruit is to spread its seed, so it needs to rot in order to get the seeds out of the fruit. There are actually hormones, especially ethylene oxide that promote fruit ripening. If you want to get a piece of fruit to ripen, put it in a bag with an apple which generates a lot of ethylene oxide.

vanhoeck


Mostly mold.... and some bacteria...they have to eat too...:)

Peter Faletra Ph.D.
Assistant Director
Science Education
Office of Science
Department of Energy


bacteria and fungi

J. Elliott


Dear Ross:

In addition to the other excellent answers to your inquiry offered already, I'd like to add a couple more contributors to this not-so-straightforward process. The fruit itself produces enzymes, such as amylases & proteases, which also assist in the tissue breakdown associated with rotting. In fact, the ethylene oxide mentioned by vanhoeck actually promotes the activity of some of these enzymes. Once this process is initiated by the fruit itself, it is much easier for the bacteria & fungi to colonize themselves.

This might sound more complicated than you expected, but that probably reflects the fact that it is a crucial property for enabling the plant to "spread its seed", as also noted by vanhoeck. Thanks for the good question,

Jeff Buzby, Ph.D.
Children's Hosp. of Orange Cnty.
NEWTON AAS
Div. of Educational Programs
Argonne National Laboratory



Click here to return to the Molecular Biology Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory