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Sugar and abscisic acid signaling orthologs are activated at the onset of ripening in grape


The onset of ripening involves changes in sugar metabolism, softening, and color development. Most understanding of this process arises from work in climacteric fruits where the control of ripening is predominately by ethylene. However, many fruits such as grape are nonclimacteric, where the onset of ripening results from the integration of multiple hormone signals including sugars and abscisic acid (ABA). In this study, we identified ten orthologous gene families in Vitis vinifera containing components of sugar and ABA-signaling pathways elucidated in model systems, including PP2C protein phosphatases, and WRKY and homeobox transcription factors. Gene expression was characterized in control- and deficit-irrigated, field-grown Cabernet Sauvignon. Sixty-seven orthologous genes were identified, and 38 of these were expressed in berries. Of the genes expressed in berries, 68% were differentially expressed across development and/or in response to water deficit. Orthologs of several families were induced at the onset of ripening, and induced earlier and to higher levels in response to water deficit; patterns of expression that correlate with sugar and ABA accumulation during ripening. Similar to field-grown berries, ripening phenomena were induced in immature berries when cultured with sucrose and ABA, as evidenced by changes in color, softening, and gene expression. Finally, exogenous sucrose and ABA regulated key orthologs in culture, similar to their regulation in the field. This study identifies novel candidates in the control of nonclimacteric fruit ripening and demonstrates that grape orthologs of key sugar and ABA-signaling components are regulated by sugar and ABA in fleshy fruit.

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