?Why is ethylene important to agriculture

Controlling ethylene responses is a major commercial enterprise due to the wide-ranging effects of ethylene on plants of agronomic and horticultural value [1]. Interestingly, responses to ethylene can be either harmful or desirable, depending on the species, developmental stage and concentration of ethylene. Too much ethylene, for example, can result in the spoilage of produce, as aptly conveyed by the saying “one bad apple spoils the whole bunch”. Costly methods are therefore employed to prevent the spoilage of fruits, vegetables and flowers during their transport and storage. These methods include the use of adsorbents and scrubbers to remove external ethylene, the use of chemical inhibitors to prevent ethylene biosynthesis and the use of chemical inhibitors  to prevent ethylene signal transduction. Blocking ethylene perception during crop growth can also prevent abscission of leaves and flowers and yellowing of vegetables. On the other hand, ethylene is intentionally applied in situations where ethylene responses are desirable. Fruit ripening is typically induced pre- or post-harvest using ethylene or ethephon, which is a commercial liquid formulation of ethylene. Ethephon is also sprayed on pineapple plants to induce flowering and sprayed on wheat plants to prevent lodging (bending over).

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