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Gene expression and metabolite accumulation during strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa) fruit development and ripening

Baldi, Paolo, Orsucci, Saverio, Moser, Mirko, Brilli, Matteo, Giongo, Lara, Si-Ammour, Azeddine
Planta 2018 v.248 no.5 pp. 1143-1157
Fragaria ananassa, amino acids, anthocyanins, biochemical pathways, biosynthesis, branches, developmental stages, enzymes, flavor, fruit set, gene activation, gene expression, genes, high-throughput nucleotide sequencing, metabolites, metabolomics, pentoses, proanthocyanidins, ripening, strawberries, suppression subtractive hybridization, tannins
MAIN CONCLUSION: A coordinated regulation of different metabolic pathways was highlighted leading to the accumulation of important compounds that may contribute to the final quality of strawberry fruit. Strawberry fruit development and ripening involve complex physiological and biochemical changes, ranging from sugar accumulation to the production of important volatiles compounds that contribute to the final fruit flavor. To better understand the mechanisms controlling fruit growth and ripening in cultivated strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa), we applied a molecular approach combining suppression subtractive hybridization and next generation sequencing to identify genes regulating developmental stages going from fruit set to full ripening. The results clearly indicated coordinated regulation of several metabolic processes such as the biosynthesis of flavonoid, phenylpropanoid and branched-chain amino acids, together with glycerolipid metabolism and pentose and glucuronate interconversion. In particular, genes belonging to the flavonoid pathway were activated in two distinct phases, the first one at the very early stages of fruit development and the second during ripening. The combination of expression analysis with metabolomic data revealed that the functional meaning of these two inductions is different, as during the early stages gene activation of flavonoid pathway leads to the production of proanthocyanidins and ellagic acid-derived tannins, while during ripening anthocyanins are the main product of flavonoid pathway activation. Moreover, the subtractive approach allowed the identification of different members of the same gene family coding for the same or very similar enzymes that in some cases showed opposite regulation during strawberry fruit development. Such regulation is an important trait that can help to understand how plants specifically channel metabolic intermediates towards separate branches of a biosynthetic pathway or use different isoforms of the same enzyme in different organs or developmental stages.