Name: Ross J.
What exactly makes fruit rot?
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.
Mostly mold.... and some bacteria...they have to eat too...:)
Peter Faletra Ph.D.
Office of Science
Department of Energy
bacteria and fungi
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,
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.
Div. of Educational Programs
Argonne National Laboratory
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Update: June 2012