Fleshy fruits represent a valuable resource of economic and nutritional relevance for humanity. The plant cuticle is the external lipid layer covering the nonwoody aerial organs of land plants, and it is the first contact between fruits and the environment. It has been hypothesized that the cuticle plays a role in the development, ripening, quality, resistance to pathogen attack and postharvest shelf life of fleshy fruits. The cuticle’s structure and composition change in response to the fruit’s developmental stage, fruit physiology and different postharvest treatments. This review summarizes current information on the physiology and molecular mechanism of cuticle biosynthesis and composition changes during the development, ripening and postharvest stages of fleshy fruits. A discussion and analysis of studies regarding the relationship between cuticle composition, water loss reduction and maintaining fleshy fruits’ postharvest quality are presented. An overview of the molecular mechanism of cuticle biosynthesis and efforts to elucidate it in fleshy fruits is included. Enhancing our knowledge about cuticle biosynthesis mechanisms and identifying specific transcripts, proteins and lipids related to quality traits in fleshy fruits could contribute to the design of biotechnological strategies to improve the quality and postharvest shelf life of these important fruit crops.
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