Metabolic changes occurring in ripe or senescent fruits during postharvest storage lead to a general deterioration in quality attributes, including decreased flavor and ‘off-aroma’ compound generation. As a consequence, measures to reduce economic losses have to be taken by the fruit industry and have mostly consisted of storage at cold temperatures and the use of controlled atmospheres or ripening inhibitors. However, the biochemical pathways and molecular mechanisms underlying fruit senescence in commercial storage conditions are still poorly understood. In this sense, metabolomic platforms, enabling the profiling of key metabolites responsible for organoleptic and health-promoting traits, such as volatiles, sugars, acids, polyphenols and carotenoids, can be a powerful tool for further understanding the biochemical basis of postharvest physiology and have the potential to play a critical role in the identification of the pathways affected by fruit senescence. Here, we provide an overview of the metabolic changes during postharvest storage, with special attention to key metabolites related to fruit quality. The potential use of metabolomic approaches to yield metabolic markers useful for chemical phenotyping or even storage and marketing decisions is highlighted.
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