Identification of putative candidate genes involved in cuticle formation in Prunus avium (sweet cherry) fruit
BACKGROUND AND AIMSThe cuticular membrane (CM) of Prunus avium (sweet cherry) and other fleshy fruit is under stress. Previous research indicates that the resultant strain promotes microscopic cuticular cracking. Microcracks impair the function of the CM as a barrier against pathogens and uncontrolled water loss/uptake. Stress and strain result from a cessation of CM deposition during early development, while the fruit surface continues to expand. The cessation of CM deposition, in turn, may be related to an early downregulation of CM-related genes. The aims of this study were to identify genes potentially involved in CM formation in sweet cherry fruit and to quantify their expression levels.
METHODSFruit growth and CM deposition were quantified weekly from anthesis to maturity and rates of CM deposition were calculated. Sequences of genes expressed in the sweet cherry fruit skin (exocarp) were generated using high-throughput sequencing of cDNA and de novo assembly and analysed using bioinformatics tools. Relative mRNA levels of selected genes were quantified in the exocarp and fruit flesh (mesocarp) weekly using reverse transcriptase-quantitative real-time PCR and compared with the calculated CM deposition rate over time.
KEY RESULTSThe rate of CM deposition peaked at 93 (±5) μg per fruit d(-1) about 19 d after anthesis. Based on sequence analyses, 18 genes were selected as potentially involved in CM formation. Selected sweet cherry genes shared up to 100 and 98 % similarity with the respective Prunus persica (peach) and Arabidopsis thaliana genes. Expression of 13 putative CM-related genes was restricted to the exocarp and correlated positively with the CM deposition rate.
CONCLUSIONSThe results support the view that the cessation of CM deposition during early sweet cherry fruit development is accounted for by a downregulation of genes involved in CM deposition. Genes that merit further investigation include PaWINA, PaWINB, PaLipase, PaLTPG1, PaATT1, PaLCR, PaGPAT4/8, PaLACS2, PaLACS1 and PaCER1.