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Virus-Induced Gene Silencing of the Eggplant Chalcone Synthase Gene during Fruit Ripening Modifies Epidermal Cells and Gravitropism

Wang, Cuicui, Fu, Daqi
Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 2018 v.66 no.11 pp. 2623-2629
Arabidopsis thaliana, Medicago truncatula, Solanum melongena, anthocyanins, color, eggplants, fruits, gene expression, gene silencing, genes, gravitropism, models, mutants, naringenin-chalcone synthase, ripening
Eggplant (Solanum melongena L.) fruits accumulate flavonoids in their cuticle and epidermal cells during ripening. Although many mutants available in model plant species, such as Arabidopsis thaliana and Medicago truncatula, are enabling the intricacies of flavonoid-related physiology to be deduced, the mechanisms whereby flavonoids influence eggplant fruit physiology are unknown. Virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) is a reliable tool for the study of flavonoid function in fruit, and in this study, we successfully applied this technique to downregulate S. melongena chalcone synthase gene (SmCHS) expression during eggplant fruit ripening. In addition to the expected change in fruit color attributable to a lack of anthocyanins, several other modifications, including differences in epidermal cell size and shape, were observed in the different sectors. We also found that silencing of CHS gene expression was associated with a negative gravitropic response in eggplant fruits. These observations indicate that epidermal cell expansion during ripening is dependent upon CHS expression and that there may be a relationship between CHS expression and gravitropism during eggplant fruit ripening.