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Transcriptomic analysis of Citrus clementina mandarin fruits maturation reveals a MADS-box transcription factor that might be involved in the regulation of earliness

Terol, Javier, Nueda, M. José, Ventimilla, Daniel, Tadeo, Francisco, Talon, Manuel
BMC plant biology 2019 v.19 no.1 pp. 47
1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylate synthase, 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid, Citrus clementina, aminocyclopropanecarboxylate oxidase, biosynthesis, clementines, cultivars, early development, ethylene, fruit maturity, fruits, genes, harvest date, market share, mutants, mutation, phenotype, ripening, sequence analysis, sports, transcription factors, transcriptome, transcriptomics
BACKGROUND: Harvest time is a relevant economic trait in citrus, and selection of cultivars with different fruit maturity periods has a remarkable impact in the market share. Generation of early- and late-maturing cultivars is an important target for citrus breeders, therefore, generation of knowledge regarding the genetic mechanisms controlling the ripening process and causing the early and late phenotypes is crucial. In this work we analyze the evolution of the transcriptome during fruit ripening in 3 sport mutations derived from the Fina clementine (Citrus clementina) mandarin: Clemenules (CLE), Arrufatina (ARR) and Hernandina (HER) that differ in their harvesting periods. CLE is considered a mid-season cultivar while ARR and HER are early- and late-ripening mutants, respectively. RESULTS: We used RNA-Seq technology to carry out a time course analysis of the transcriptome of the 3 mutations along the ripening period. The results indicated that in these mutants, earliness and lateness during fruit ripening correlated with the advancement or delay in the expression of a set of genes that may be implicated in the maturation process. A detailed analysis of the transcription factors known to be involved in the regulation of fruit ripening identified a member of the MADS box family whose expression was lower in ARR, the early-ripening mutant, and higher in HER, the late-ripening mutant. The pattern of expression of this gene during the maturation period was basically contrary to those of the ethylene biosynthetic genes, SAM and ACC synthases and ACC oxidase. The gene was present in hemizygous dose in the early-ripening mutant. CONCLUSIONS: Our analysis provides new clues about the genetic control of fruit ripening in citrus and allowed the identification of a transcription factor that could be involved in the early phenotype.