, Volume 242, Issue 5, pp 1207–1219 | Cite as

Water loss from litchi (Litchi chinensis) and longan (Dimocarpus longan) fruits is biphasic and controlled by a complex pericarpal transpiration barrier

  • Markus RiedererEmail author
  • Katja Arand
  • Markus Burghardt
  • Hua Huang
  • Michael Riedel
  • Ann-Christin Schuster
  • Anna Smirnova
  • Yueming Jiang
Original Article


Main conclusion

In litchi and longan fruits, a specialised pericarp controls water loss by a protective system consisting of two resistances in series and two water reservoirs separated by a barrier.

In the fruits of litchi (Litchi chinensis) and longan (Dimocarpus longan), the pericarp is solely a protective structure lacking functional stomata and completely enclosing the aril that is the edible part. Maintaining a high water content of the fruits is crucial for ensuring the economic value of these important fruit crops. The water loss rates from mature fruits were determined and analysed in terms of the properties of the pericarps. Water loss kinetics and sorption isotherms were measured gravimetrically. The pericarps were studied with microscopy, and cuticular waxes and cutin were analysed with gas chromatography and mass spectrometry. The kinetics of fruit water loss are biphasic with a high initial rate and a lower equilibrium rate lasting for many hours. The outer and inner surfaces of the pericarps are covered with cuticles. Litchi and longan fruits have a unique type of transpiration barrier consisting of two resistances in series (endo- and exocarp cuticles) and two reservoirs of water (aril and mesocarp). The exocarp permeability controls the water loss from fresh fruits while in fruits kept for an extended time at low relative humidity it is determined by the endo- and exocarp permeabilities. Permeances measured are within the range for typical fruit cuticles. The findings may be used to design optimal postharvest storage strategies for litchi and longan fruits.


Cuticular waxes Pericarp Plant cuticle Water loss kinetics Water permeability Water sorption 





Relative humidity


Water loss rate



This work was supported by a Chinese Academy of Sciences Visiting Professorship for Senior International Scientists grant no. 2011T2S31 to M. R., and the Overseas Study Program of Guangzhou Elite Project Scholarship to H. H. The authors also gratefully acknowledge the contributions of Franz Olbrich, Frankfurt, and the skilful technical assistance by Natascha Sieling. The authors are also indebted to two anonymous reviewers for valuable comments that helped to considerably improve this manuscript.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

425_2015_2360_MOESM1_ESM.docx (28 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 28 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Markus Riederer
    • 1
    Email author
  • Katja Arand
    • 1
  • Markus Burghardt
    • 1
  • Hua Huang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Michael Riedel
    • 1
  • Ann-Christin Schuster
    • 1
  • Anna Smirnova
    • 1
    • 3
  • Yueming Jiang
    • 2
  1. 1.Julius von Sachs Institute of Biological SciencesUniversity of WürzburgWürzburgGermany
  2. 2.South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of SciencesGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Génétique Moléculaire, Génomique, Microbiologie, Institut de Physiologie et de la Chimie BiologiqueUniversité de StrasbourgStrasbourg CedexFrance

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