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1.  Grapevine MLO candidates required for powdery mildew pathogenicity? 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2009;4(6):522-523.
MLOs belong to the largest family of seven-transmembrane (7TM) domain proteins found in plants. The Arabidopsis and rice genomes contain 15 and 12 MLO family members, respectively. Although the biological function of most MLO family members remains elusive, a select group of MLO proteins have been demonstrated to negatively regulate defence responses to the obligate biotrophic pathogen, powdery mildew, thereby acting as “susceptibility” genes. Recently we identified a family of 17 putative VvMLO genes in the genome of the cultivated winegrape species, Vitis vinifera. Expression analysis indicated that the VvMLO family members respond differently to biotic and abiotic stimuli. Infection of V. vinifera by grape powdery mildew (Erysiphe necator) specifically upregulates four VvMLO genes that are orthologous to the Arabidopsis and tomato MLOs previously demonstrated to be required for powdery mildew susceptibility. We postulate that one or more of these E. necator responsive VvMLOs may have a role in the powdery mildew susceptibility of grapevine.
PMCID: PMC2688300  PMID: 19816131
MLO; powdery mildew; resistance; susceptibility; grapevine
2.  Genomic and transcriptomic analysis of the AP2/ERF superfamily in Vitis vinifera 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:719.
The AP2/ERF protein family contains transcription factors that play a crucial role in plant growth and development and in response to biotic and abiotic stress conditions in plants. Grapevine (Vitis vinifera) is the only woody crop whose genome has been fully sequenced. So far, no detailed expression profile of AP2/ERF-like genes is available for grapevine.
An exhaustive search for AP2/ERF genes was carried out on the Vitis vinifera genome and their expression profile was analyzed by Real-Time quantitative PCR (qRT-PCR) in different vegetative and reproductive tissues and under two different ripening stages.
One hundred and forty nine sequences, containing at least one ERF domain, were identified. Specific clusters within the AP2 and ERF families showed conserved expression patterns reminiscent of other species and grapevine specific trends related to berry ripening. Moreover, putative targets of group IX ERFs were identified by co-expression and protein similarity comparisons.
The grapevine genome contains an amount of AP2/ERF genes comparable to that of other dicot species analyzed so far. We observed an increase in the size of specific groups within the ERF family, probably due to recent duplication events. Expression analyses in different aerial tissues display common features previously described in other plant systems and introduce possible new roles for members of some ERF groups during fruit ripening. The presented analysis of AP2/ERF genes in grapevine provides the bases for studying the molecular regulation of berry development and the ripening process.
PMCID: PMC3022922  PMID: 21171999
3.  Interactions between ethylene and auxin are crucial to the control of grape (Vitis vinifera L.) berry ripening 
BMC Plant Biology  2013;13:222.
Fruit development is controlled by plant hormones, but the role of hormone interactions during fruit ripening is poorly understood. Interactions between ethylene and the auxin indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) are likely to be crucial during the ripening process, since both hormones have been shown to be implicated in the control of ripening in a range of different fruit species.
Grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.) homologues of the TRYPTOPHAN AMINOTRANSFERASE RELATED (TAR) and YUCCA families, functioning in the only characterized pathway of auxin biosynthesis, were identified and the expression of several TAR genes was shown to be induced by the pre-ripening application of the ethylene-releasing compound Ethrel. The induction of TAR expression was accompanied by increased IAA and IAA-Asp concentrations, indicative of an upregulation of auxin biosynthesis and conjugation. Exposure of ex planta, pre-ripening berries to the ethylene biosynthesis inhibitor aminoethoxyvinylglycine resulted in decreased IAA and IAA-Asp concentrations. The delayed initiation of ripening observed in Ethrel-treated berries might therefore represent an indirect ethylene effect mediated by increased auxin concentrations. During berry development, the expression of three TAR genes and one YUCCA gene was upregulated at the time of ripening initiation and/or during ripening. This increase in auxin biosynthesis gene expression was preceded by high expression levels of the ethylene biosynthesis genes 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylate synthase and 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylate oxidase.
In grape berries, members of both gene families involved in the two-step pathway of auxin biosynthesis are expressed, suggesting that IAA is produced through the combined action of TAR and YUCCA proteins in developing berries. The induction of TAR expression by Ethrel applications and the developmental expression patterns of auxin and ethylene biosynthesis genes indicate that elevated concentrations of ethylene prior to the initiation of ripening might lead to an increased production of IAA, suggesting a complex involvement of this auxin and its conjugates in grape berry ripening.
PMCID: PMC3878033  PMID: 24364881
Aminoethoxyvinylglycine; Auxin; Biosynthesis; Ethrel; Ethylene; Interaction; Vitis vinifera; Ripening
4.  Expression and In Situ Localization of Two Major PR Proteins of Grapevine Berries during Development and after UV-C Exposition 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e43681.
In grapevine Vitis vinifera L. cv Pinot noir, the Pathogenesis-Related (PR) proteins CHI4D and TL3 are among the most abundant extractable PR proteins of ripe berries and accumulate during berry ripening from véraison until full maturation. Evidence was supplied in favor of the involvement of these two protein families in plant defense mechanisms and plant development. In order to better understand CHI4D and TL3 function in grapevine, we analyzed their temporal and spatial pattern of expression during maturation and after an abiotic stress (UV-C) by in situ hybridization (ISH) and immunohistolocalization. In ripening berries, CHI4D and TL3 genes were mainly expressed in the exocarp and around vascular bundles of the mesocarp. In UV-C exposed berries, CHI4D and TL3 gene expression was strongly induced before véraison. Corresponding proteins localized in the exocarp and, to a lesser extent, around vascular bundles of the mesocarp. The spatial and temporal accumulation of the two PR proteins during berry maturation and after an abiotic stress is discussed in relation to their putative roles in plant defense.
PMCID: PMC3427166  PMID: 22937077
5.  Synergistic effect of methyljasmonate and cyclodextrin on stilbene biosynthesis pathway gene expression and resveratrol production in Monastrell grapevine cell cultures 
BMC Research Notes  2008;1:132.
Plant cell cultures have been shown as feasible systems for the production of secondary metabolites, being the elicitation with biotic or abiotic stimuli the most efficient strategy to increase the production of those metabolites. Vitaceae phytoalexins constitute a group of molecules belonging to the stilbene family which are derivatives of the trans-resveratrol structure and are produced by plants and cell cultures as a response to biotic and abiotic stresses. The potential benefits of resveratrol on human health have made it one of the most thoroughly studied phytochemical molecules. The aim of this study was to evaluate the elicitor effect of both cyclodextrin (CD) and methyljasmonate (MeJA) on grapevine cell cultures by carrying out a quantitative analysis of their role on resveratrol production and on the expression of stilbene biosynthetic genes in Vitis vinifera cv Monastrell albino cell suspension cultures.
MeJA and CD significantly but transiently induced the expression of stilbene biosynthetic genes when independently used to treat grapevine cells. This expression correlated with resveratrol production in CD-treated cells but not in MeJA-treated cells, which growth was drastically affected. In the combined treatment of CD and MeJA cell growth was similarly affected, however resveratrol production was almost one order of magnitude higher, in correlation with maximum expression values for stilbene biosynthetic genes.
The effect of MeJA on cell division combined with a true and strong elicitor like CD could be responsible for the observed synergistic effect of both compounds on resveratrol production and on the expression of genes in the stilbene pathway.
PMCID: PMC2628674  PMID: 19102745
6.  Analyses of the oligopeptide transporter gene family in poplar and grape 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:465.
Oligopeptide transporters (OPTs) are a group of membrane-localized proteins that have a broad range of substrate transport capabilities and that are thought to contribute to many biological processes. The OPT proteins belong to a small gene family in plants, which includes about 25 members in Arabidopsis and rice. However, no comprehensive study incorporating phylogeny, chromosomal location, gene structure, expression profiling, functional divergence and selective pressure analysis has been reported thus far for Populus and Vitis.
In the present study, a comprehensive analysis of the OPT gene family in Populus (P. trichocarpa) and Vitis (V. vinifera) was performed. A total of 20 and 18 full-length OPT genes have been identified in Populus and Vitis, respectively. Phylogenetic analyses indicate that these OPT genes consist of two classes that can be further subdivided into 11 groups. Gene structures are considerably conserved among the groups. The distribution of OPT genes was found to be non-random across chromosomes. A high proportion of the genes are preferentially clustered, indicating that tandem duplications may have contributed significantly to the expansion of the OPT gene family. Expression patterns based on our analyses of microarray data suggest that many OPT genes may be important in stress response and functional development of plants. Further analyses of functional divergence and adaptive evolution show that, while purifying selection may have been the main force driving the evolution of the OPTs, some of critical sites responsible for the functional divergence may have been under positive selection.
Overall, the data obtained from our investigation contribute to a better understanding of the complexity of the Populus and Vitis OPT gene family and of the function and evolution of the OPT gene family in higher plants.
PMCID: PMC3188535  PMID: 21943393
7.  Vv-AMP1, a ripening induced peptide from Vitis vinifera shows strong antifungal activity 
BMC Plant Biology  2008;8:75.
Latest research shows that small antimicrobial peptides play a role in the innate defense system of plants. These peptides typically contribute to preformed defense by developing protective barriers around germinating seeds or between different tissue layers within plant organs. The encoding genes could also be upregulated by abiotic and biotic stimuli during active defense processes. The peptides display a broad spectrum of antimicrobial activities. Their potent anti-pathogenic characteristics have ensured that they are promising targets in the medical and agricultural biotechnology sectors.
A berry specific cDNA sequence designated Vv-AMP1, Vitis vinifera antimicrobial peptide 1, was isolated from Vitis vinifera. Vv-AMP1 encodes for a 77 amino acid peptide that shows sequence homology to the family of plant defensins. Vv-AMP1 is expressed in a tissue specific, developmentally regulated manner, being only expressed in berry tissue at the onset of berry ripening and onwards. Treatment of leaf and berry tissue with biotic or abiotic factors did not lead to increased expression of Vv-AMP1 under the conditions tested. The predicted signal peptide of Vv-AMP1, fused to the green fluorescent protein (GFP), showed that the signal peptide allowed accumulation of its product in the apoplast. Vv-AMP1 peptide, produced in Escherichia coli, had a molecular mass of 5.495 kDa as determined by mass spectrometry. Recombinant Vv-AMP1 was extremely heat-stable and showed strong antifungal activity against a broad spectrum of plant pathogenic fungi, with very high levels of activity against the wilting disease causing pathogens Fusarium oxysporum and Verticillium dahliae. The Vv-AMP1 peptide did not induce morphological changes on the treated fungal hyphae, but instead strongly inhibited hyphal elongation. A propidium iodide uptake assay suggested that the inhibitory activity of Vv-AMP1 might be associated with altering the membrane permeability of the fungal membranes.
A berry specific cDNA clone, Vv-AMP1, was isolated and characterized and shown to encode a plant defensin. Recombinant Vv-AMP1 displayed non-morphogenic antifungal activity against a broad spectrum of fungi, probably altering the membrane permeability of the fungal pathogens. The expression of this peptide is highly regulated in Vitis vinifera, hinting at an important defense role during berry-ripening.
PMCID: PMC2492866  PMID: 18611251
8.  VitisExpDB: A database resource for grape functional genomics 
BMC Plant Biology  2008;8:23.
The family Vitaceae consists of many different grape species that grow in a range of climatic conditions. In the past few years, several studies have generated functional genomic information on different Vitis species and cultivars, including the European grape vine, Vitis vinifera. Our goal is to develop a comprehensive web data source for Vitaceae.
VitisExpDB is an online MySQL-PHP driven relational database that houses annotated EST and gene expression data for V. vinifera and non-vinifera grape species and varieties. Currently, the database stores ~320,000 EST sequences derived from 8 species/hybrids, their annotation (BLAST top match) details and Gene Ontology based structured vocabulary. Putative homologs for each EST in other species and varieties along with information on their percent nucleotide identities, phylogenetic relationship and common primers can be retrieved. The database also includes information on probe sequence and annotation features of the high density 60-mer gene expression chip consisting of ~20,000 non-redundant set of ESTs. Finally, the database includes 14 processed global microarray expression profile sets. Data from 12 of these expression profile sets have been mapped onto metabolic pathways. A user-friendly web interface with multiple search indices and extensively hyperlinked result features that permit efficient data retrieval has been developed. Several online bioinformatics tools that interact with the database along with other sequence analysis tools have been added. In addition, users can submit their ESTs to the database.
The developed database provides genomic resource to grape community for functional analysis of genes in the collection and for the grape genome annotation and gene function identification. The VitisExpDB database is available through our website .
PMCID: PMC2359749  PMID: 18307813
9.  Genome-Wide Identification and Analysis of the TIFY Gene Family in Grape 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e44465.
The TIFY gene family constitutes a plant-specific group of genes with a broad range of functions. This family encodes four subfamilies of proteins, including ZML, TIFY, PPD and JASMONATE ZIM-Domain (JAZ) proteins. JAZ proteins are targets of the SCFCOI1 complex, and function as negative regulators in the JA signaling pathway. Recently, it has been reported in both Arabidopsis and rice that TIFY genes, and especially JAZ genes, may be involved in plant defense against insect feeding, wounding, pathogens and abiotic stresses. Nonetheless, knowledge concerning the specific expression patterns and evolutionary history of plant TIFY family members is limited, especially in a woody species such as grape.
Methodology/Principal Findings
A total of two TIFY, four ZML, two PPD and 11 JAZ genes were identified in the Vitis vinifera genome. Phylogenetic analysis of TIFY protein sequences from grape, Arabidopsis and rice indicated that the grape TIFY proteins are more closely related to those of Arabidopsis than those of rice. Both segmental and tandem duplication events have been major contributors to the expansion of the grape TIFY family. In addition, synteny analysis between grape and Arabidopsis demonstrated that homologues of several grape TIFY genes were found in the corresponding syntenic blocks of Arabidopsis, suggesting that these genes arose before the divergence of lineages that led to grape and Arabidopsis. Analyses of microarray and quantitative real-time RT-PCR expression data revealed that grape TIFY genes are not a major player in the defense against biotrophic pathogens or viruses. However, many of these genes were responsive to JA and ABA, but not SA or ET.
The genome-wide identification, evolutionary and expression analyses of grape TIFY genes should facilitate further research of this gene family and provide new insights regarding their evolutionary history and regulatory control.
PMCID: PMC3439424  PMID: 22984514
10.  Whole-Genome Survey of the Putative ATP-Binding Cassette Transporter Family Genes in Vitis vinifera 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e78860.
The ATP-binding cassette (ABC) protein superfamily constitutes one of the largest protein families known in plants. In this report, we performed a complete inventory of ABC protein genes in Vitis vinifera, the whole genome of which has been sequenced. By comparison with ABC protein members of Arabidopsis thaliana, we identified 135 putative ABC proteins with 1 or 2 NBDs in V. vinifera. Of these, 120 encode intrinsic membrane proteins, and 15 encode proteins missing TMDs. V. vinifera ABC proteins can be divided into 13 subfamilies with 79 “full-size,” 41 “half-size,” and 15 “soluble” putative ABC proteins. The main feature of the Vitis ABC superfamily is the presence of 2 large subfamilies, ABCG (pleiotropic drug resistance and white-brown complex homolog) and ABCC (multidrug resistance-associated protein). We identified orthologs of V. vinifera putative ABC transporters in different species. This work represents the first complete inventory of ABC transporters in V. vinifera. The identification of Vitis ABC transporters and their comparative analysis with the Arabidopsis counterparts revealed a strong conservation between the 2 species. This inventory could help elucidate the biological and physiological functions of these transporters in V. vinifera.
PMCID: PMC3823996  PMID: 24244377
11.  Genome-wide transcriptional analysis of grapevine berry ripening reveals a set of genes similarly modulated during three seasons and the occurrence of an oxidative burst at vèraison 
BMC Genomics  2007;8:428.
Grapevine (Vitis species) is among the most important fruit crops in terms of cultivated area and economic impact. Despite this relevance, little is known about the transcriptional changes and the regulatory circuits underlying the biochemical and physical changes occurring during berry development.
Fruit ripening in the non-climacteric crop species Vitis vinifera L. has been investigated at the transcriptional level by the use of the Affymetrix Vitis GeneChip® which contains approximately 14,500 unigenes. Gene expression data obtained from berries sampled before and after véraison in three growing years, were analyzed to identify genes specifically involved in fruit ripening and to investigate seasonal influences on the process. From these analyses a core set of 1477 genes was found which was similarly modulated in all seasons. We were able to separate ripening specific isoforms within gene families and to identify ripening related genes which appeared strongly regulated also by the seasonal weather conditions. Transcripts annotation by Gene Ontology vocabulary revealed five overrepresented functional categories of which cell wall organization and biogenesis, carbohydrate and secondary metabolisms and stress response were specifically induced during the ripening phase, while photosynthesis was strongly repressed. About 19% of the core gene set was characterized by genes involved in regulatory processes, such as transcription factors and transcripts related to hormonal metabolism and signal transduction. Auxin, ethylene and light emerged as the main stimuli influencing berry development. In addition, an oxidative burst, previously not detected in grapevine, characterized by rapid accumulation of H2O2 starting from véraison and by the modulation of many ROS scavenging enzymes, was observed.
The time-course gene expression analysis of grapevine berry development has identified the occurrence of two well distinct phases along the process. The pre-véraison phase represents a reprogramming stage of the cellular metabolism, characterized by the expression of numerous genes involved in hormonal signalling and transcriptional regulation. The post-véraison phase is characterized by the onset of a ripening-specialized metabolism responsible for the phenotypic traits of the ripe berry. Between the two phases, at véraison, an oxidative burst and the concurrent modulation of the anti-oxidative enzymatic network was observed. The large number of regulatory genes we have identified represents a powerful new resource for dissecting the mechanisms of fruit ripening control in non-climacteric plants.
PMCID: PMC2228314  PMID: 18034875
12.  Molecular, genetic and transcriptional evidence for a role of VvAGL11 in stenospermocarpic seedlessness in grapevine 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:57.
Stenospermocarpy is a mechanism through which certain genotypes of Vitis vinifera L. such as Sultanina produce berries with seeds reduced in size. Stenospermocarpy has not yet been characterized at the molecular level.
Genetic and physical maps were integrated with the public genomic sequence of Vitis vinifera L. to improve QTL analysis for seedlessness and berry size in experimental progeny derived from a cross of two seedless genotypes. Major QTLs co-positioning for both traits on chromosome 18 defined a 92-kb confidence interval. Functional information from model species including Vitis suggested that VvAGL11, included in this confidence interval, might be the main positional candidate gene responsible for seed and berry development.
Characterization of VvAGL11 at the sequence level in the experimental progeny identified several SNPs and INDELs in both regulatory and coding regions. In association analyses performed over three seasons, these SNPs and INDELs explained up to 78% and 44% of the phenotypic variation in seed and berry weight, respectively. Moreover, genetic experiments indicated that the regulatory region has a larger effect on the phenotype than the coding region. Transcriptional analysis lent additional support to the putative role of VvAGL11's regulatory region, as its expression is abolished in seedless genotypes at key stages of seed development. These results transform VvAGL11 into a functional candidate gene for further analyses based on genetic transformation.
For breeding purposes, intragenic markers were tested individually for marker assisted selection, and the best markers were those closest to the transcription start site.
We propose that VvAGL11 is the major functional candidate gene for seedlessness, and we provide experimental evidence suggesting that the seedless phenotype might be caused by variations in its promoter region. Current knowledge of the function of its orthologous genes, its expression profile in Vitis varieties and the strong association between its sequence variation and the degree of seedlessness together indicate that the D-lineage MADS-box gene VvAGL11 corresponds to the Seed Development Inhibitor locus described earlier as a major locus for seedlessness. These results provide new hypotheses for further investigations of the molecular mechanisms involved in seed and berry development.
PMCID: PMC3076230  PMID: 21447172
13.  Grapevine Aquaporins: Gating of a Tonoplast Intrinsic Protein (TIP2;1) by Cytosolic pH 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33219.
Grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.) is one of the oldest and most important perennial crops being considered as a fruit ligneous tree model system in which the water status appears crucial for high fruit and wine quality, controlling productivity and alcohol level. V. vinifera genome contains 28 genes coding for aquaporins, which acting in a concerted and regulated manner appear relevant for plant withstanding extremely unfavorable drought conditions essential for the quality of berries and wine. Several Vv aquaporins have been reported to be expressed in roots, shoots, berries and leaves with clear cultivar differences in their expression level, making their in vivo biochemical characterization a difficult task. In this work V. vinifera cv. Touriga nacional VvTnPIP1;1, VvTnPIP2;2 and VvTnTIP2;1 were expressed in yeast and water transport activity was characterized in intact cells of the transformants. The three aquaporins were localized in the yeast plasma membrane but only VvTnTIP2;1 expression enhanced the water permeability with a concomitant decrease of the activation energy of water transport. Acidification of yeast cytosol resulted in loss of VvTnTIP2;1 activity. Sequence analysis revealed the presence of a His131 residue, unusual in TIPs. By site directed mutagenesis, replacement of this residue by aspartic acid or alanine resulted in loss of pHin dependence while replacement by lysine resulted in total loss of activity. In addition to characterization of VvTn aquaporins, these results shed light on the gating of a specific tonoplast aquaporin by cytosolic pH.
PMCID: PMC3299758  PMID: 22427995
14.  Phylogenetic analyses of Vitis (Vitaceae) based on complete chloroplast genome sequences: effects of taxon sampling and phylogenetic methods on resolving relationships among rosids 
The Vitaceae (grape) is an economically important family of angiosperms whose phylogenetic placement is currently unresolved. Recent phylogenetic analyses based on one to several genes have suggested several alternative placements of this family, including sister to Caryophyllales, asterids, Saxifragales, Dilleniaceae or to rest of rosids, though support for these different results has been weak. There has been a recent interest in using complete chloroplast genome sequences for resolving phylogenetic relationships among angiosperms. These studies have clarified relationships among several major lineages but they have also emphasized the importance of taxon sampling and the effects of different phylogenetic methods for obtaining accurate phylogenies. We sequenced the complete chloroplast genome of Vitis vinifera and used these data to assess relationships among 27 angiosperms, including nine taxa of rosids.
The Vitis vinifera chloroplast genome is 160,928 bp in length, including a pair of inverted repeats of 26,358 bp that are separated by small and large single copy regions of 19,065 bp and 89,147 bp, respectively. The gene content and order of Vitis is identical to many other unrearranged angiosperm chloroplast genomes, including tobacco. Phylogenetic analyses using maximum parsimony and maximum likelihood were performed on DNA sequences of 61 protein-coding genes for two datasets with 28 or 29 taxa, including eight or nine taxa from four of the seven currently recognized major clades of rosids. Parsimony and likelihood phylogenies of both data sets provide strong support for the placement of Vitaceae as sister to the remaining rosids. However, the position of the Myrtales and support for the monophyly of the eurosid I clade differs between the two data sets and the two methods of analysis. In parsimony analyses, the inclusion of Gossypium is necessary to obtain trees that support the monophyly of the eurosid I clade. However, maximum likelihood analyses place Cucumis as sister to the Myrtales and therefore do not support the monophyly of the eurosid I clade.
Phylogenies based on DNA sequences from complete chloroplast genome sequences provide strong support for the position of the Vitaceae as the earliest diverging lineage of rosids. Our phylogenetic analyses support recent assertions that inadequate taxon sampling and incorrect model specification for concatenated multi-gene data sets can mislead phylogenetic inferences when using whole chloroplast genomes for phylogeny reconstruction.
PMCID: PMC1479384  PMID: 16603088
15.  Characterization of Vitis vinifera NPR1 homologs involved in the regulation of Pathogenesis-Related gene expression 
BMC Plant Biology  2009;9:54.
Grapevine protection against diseases needs alternative strategies to the use of phytochemicals, implying a thorough knowledge of innate defense mechanisms. However, signalling pathways and regulatory elements leading to induction of defense responses have yet to be characterized in this species. In order to study defense response signalling to pathogens in Vitis vinifera, we took advantage of its recently completed genome sequence to characterize two putative orthologs of NPR1, a key player in salicylic acid (SA)-mediated resistance to biotrophic pathogens in Arabidopsis thaliana.
Two cDNAs named VvNPR1.1 and VvNPR1.2 were isolated from Vitis vinifera cv Chardonnay, encoding proteins showing 55% and 40% identity to Arabidopsis NPR1 respectively. Constitutive expression of VvNPR1.1 and VvNPR1.2 monitored in leaves of V. vinifera cv Chardonnay was found to be enhanced by treatment with benzothiadiazole, a SA analog. In contrast, VvNPR1.1 and VvNPR1.2 transcript levels were not affected during infection of resistant Vitis riparia or susceptible V. vinifera with Plasmopara viticola, the causal agent of downy mildew, suggesting regulation of VvNPR1 activity at the protein level. VvNPR1.1-GFP and VvNPR1.2-GFP fusion proteins were transiently expressed by agroinfiltration in Nicotiana benthamiana leaves, where they localized predominantly to the nucleus. In this system, VvNPR1.1 and VvNPR1.2 expression was sufficient to trigger the accumulation of acidic SA-dependent Pathogenesis-Related proteins PR1 and PR2, but not of basic chitinases (PR3) in the absence of pathogen infection. Interestingly, when VvNPR1.1 or AtNPR1 were transiently overexpressed in Vitis vinifera leaves, the induction of grapevine PR1 was significantly enhanced in response to P. viticola.
In conclusion, our data identified grapevine homologs of NPR1, and their functional analysis showed that VvNPR1.1 and VvNPR1.2 likely control the expression of SA-dependent defense genes. Overexpression of VvNPR1 has thus the potential to enhance grapevine defensive capabilities upon fungal infection. As a consequence, manipulating VvNPR1 and other signalling elements could open ways to strengthen disease resistance mechanisms in this crop species.
PMCID: PMC2686700  PMID: 19432948
16.  Acyl substrate preferences of an IAA-amido synthetase account for variations in grape (Vitis vinifera L.) berry ripening caused by different auxinic compounds indicating the importance of auxin conjugation in plant development 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2011;62(12):4267-4280.
Nine Gretchen Hagen (GH3) genes were identified in grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.) and six of these were predicted on the basis of protein sequence similarity to act as indole-3-acetic acid (IAA)-amido synthetases. The activity of these enzymes is thought to be important in controlling free IAA levels and one auxin-inducible grapevine GH3 protein, GH3-1, has previously been implicated in the berry ripening process. Ex planta assays showed that the expression of only one other GH3 gene, GH3-2, increased following the treatment of grape berries with auxinic compounds. One of these was the naturally occurring IAA and the other two were synthetic, α-naphthalene acetic acid (NAA) and benzothiazole-2-oxyacetic acid (BTOA). The determination of steady-state kinetic parameters for the recombinant GH3-1 and GH3-2 proteins revealed that both enzymes efficiently conjugated aspartic acid (Asp) to IAA and less well to NAA, while BTOA was a poor substrate. GH3-2 gene expression was induced by IAA treatment of pre-ripening berries with an associated increase in levels of IAA-Asp and a decrease in free IAA levels. This indicates that GH3-2 responded to excess auxin to maintain low levels of free IAA. Grape berry ripening was not affected by IAA application prior to veraison (ripening onset) but was considerably delayed by NAA and even more so by BTOA. The differential effects of the three auxinic compounds on berry ripening can therefore be explained by the induction and acyl substrate specificity of GH3-2. These results further indicate an important role for GH3 proteins in controlling auxin-related plant developmental processes.
PMCID: PMC3153680  PMID: 21543520
Auxin; GH3 proteins; ripening; Vitis vinifera
17.  Tissue-specific mRNA expression profiling in grape berry tissues 
BMC Genomics  2007;8:187.
Berries of grape (Vitis vinifera) contain three major tissue types (skin, pulp and seed) all of which contribute to the aroma, color, and flavor characters of wine. The pericarp, which is composed of the exocarp (skin) and mesocarp (pulp), not only functions to protect and feed the developing seed, but also to assist in the dispersal of the mature seed by avian and mammalian vectors. The skin provides volatile and nonvolatile aroma and color compounds, the pulp contributes organic acids and sugars, and the seeds provide condensed tannins, all of which are important to the formation of organoleptic characteristics of wine. In order to understand the transcriptional network responsible for controlling tissue-specific mRNA expression patterns, mRNA expression profiling was conducted on each tissue of mature berries of V. vinifera Cabernet Sauvignon using the Affymetrix GeneChip® Vitis oligonucleotide microarray ver. 1.0. In order to monitor the influence of water-deficit stress on tissue-specific expression patterns, mRNA expression profiles were also compared from mature berries harvested from vines subjected to well-watered or water-deficit conditions.
Overall, berry tissues were found to express approximately 76% of genes represented on the Vitis microarray. Approximately 60% of these genes exhibited significant differential expression in one or more of the three major tissue types with more than 28% of genes showing pronounced (2-fold or greater) differences in mRNA expression. The largest difference in tissue-specific expression was observed between the seed and pulp/skin. Exocarp tissue, which is involved in pathogen defense and pigment production, showed higher mRNA abundance relative to other berry tissues for genes involved with flavonoid biosynthesis, pathogen resistance, and cell wall modification. Mesocarp tissue, which is considered a nutritive tissue, exhibited a higher mRNA abundance of genes involved in cell wall function and transport processes. Seeds, which supply essential resources for embryo development, showed higher mRNA abundance of genes encoding phenylpropanoid biosynthetic enzymes, seed storage proteins, and late embryogenesis abundant proteins. Water-deficit stress affected the mRNA abundance of 13% of the genes with differential expression patterns occurring mainly in the pulp and skin. In pulp and seed tissues transcript abundance in most functional categories declined in water-deficit stressed vines relative to well-watered vines with transcripts for storage proteins and novel (no-hit) functional assignments being over represented. In the skin of berries from water-deficit stressed vines, however, transcripts from several functional categories including general phenypropanoid and ethylene metabolism, pathogenesis-related responses, energy, and interaction with the environment were significantly over-represented.
These results revealed novel insights into the tissue-specific expression mRNA expression patterns of an extensive repertoire of genes expressed in berry tissues. This work also establishes an extensive catalogue of gene expression patterns for future investigations aimed at the dissection of the transcriptional regulatory hierarchies that govern tissue-specific expression patterns associated with tissue differentiation within berries. These results also confirmed that water-deficit stress has a profound effect on mRNA expression patterns particularly associated with the biosynthesis of aroma and color metabolites within skin and pulp tissues that ultimately impact wine quality.
PMCID: PMC1925093  PMID: 17584945
18.  Transcriptome analysis at four developmental stages of grape berry (Vitis vinifera cv. Shiraz) provides insights into regulated and coordinated gene expression 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:691.
Vitis vinifera berry development is characterised by an initial phase where the fruit is small, hard and acidic, followed by a lag phase known as veraison. In the final phase, berries become larger, softer and sweeter and accumulate an array of organoleptic compounds. Since the physiological and biochemical makeup of grape berries at harvest has a profound impact on the characteristics of wine, there is great interest in characterising the molecular and biophysical changes that occur from flowering through veraison and ripening, including the coordination and temporal regulation of metabolic gene pathways. Advances in deep-sequencing technologies, combined with the availability of increasingly accurate V. vinifera genomic and transcriptomic data, have enabled us to carry out RNA-transcript expression analysis on a global scale at key points during berry development.
A total of 162 million 100-base pair reads were generated from pooled Vitis vinifera (cv. Shiraz) berries sampled at 3-weeks post-anthesis, 10- and 11-weeks post-anthesis (corresponding to early and late veraison) and at 17-weeks post-anthesis (harvest). Mapping reads from each developmental stage (36-45 million) onto the NCBI RefSeq transcriptome of 23,720 V. vinifera mRNAs revealed that at least 75% of these transcripts were detected in each sample. RNA-Seq analysis uncovered 4,185 transcripts that were significantly upregulated at a single developmental stage, including 161 transcription factors. Clustering transcripts according to distinct patterns of transcription revealed coordination in metabolic pathways such as organic acid, stilbene and terpenoid metabolism. From the phenylpropanoid/stilbene biosynthetic pathway at least 46 transcripts were upregulated in ripe berries when compared to veraison and immature berries, and 12 terpene synthases were predominantly detected only in a single sample. Quantitative real-time PCR was used to validate the expression pattern of 12 differentially expressed genes from primary and secondary metabolic pathways.
In this study we report the global transcriptional profile of Shiraz grapes at key stages of development. We have undertaken a comprehensive analysis of gene families contributing to commercially important berry characteristics and present examples of co-regulation and differential gene expression. The data reported here will provide an invaluable resource for the on-going molecular investigation of wine grapes.
PMCID: PMC3545830  PMID: 23227855
Grapevine; Illumina; Shiraz; RNA-seq; Transcriptome
19.  VitisNet: “Omics” Integration through Grapevine Molecular Networks 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(12):e8365.
Genomic data release for the grapevine has increased exponentially in the last five years. The Vitis vinifera genome has been sequenced and Vitis EST, transcriptomic, proteomic, and metabolomic tools and data sets continue to be developed. The next critical challenge is to provide biological meaning to this tremendous amount of data by annotating genes and integrating them within their biological context. We have developed and validated a system of Grapevine Molecular Networks (VitisNet).
Methodology/Principal Findings
The sequences from the Vitis vinifera (cv. Pinot Noir PN40024) genome sequencing project and ESTs from the Vitis genus have been paired and the 39,424 resulting unique sequences have been manually annotated. Among these, 13,145 genes have been assigned to 219 networks. The pathway sets include 88 “Metabolic”, 15 “Genetic Information Processing”, 12 “Environmental Information Processing”, 3 “Cellular Processes”, 21 “Transport”, and 80 “Transcription Factors”. The quantitative data is loaded onto molecular networks, allowing the simultaneous visualization of changes in the transcriptome, proteome, and metabolome for a given experiment.
VitisNet uses manually annotated networks in SBML or XML format, enabling the integration of large datasets, streamlining biological functional processing, and improving the understanding of dynamic processes in systems biology experiments. VitisNet is grounded in the Vitis vinifera genome (currently at 8x coverage) and can be readily updated with subsequent updates of the genome or biochemical discoveries. The molecular network files can be dynamically searched by pathway name or individual genes, proteins, or metabolites through the MetNet Pathway database and web-portal at All VitisNet files including the manual annotation of the grape genome encompassing pathway names, individual genes, their genome identifier, and chromosome location can be accessed and downloaded from the VitisNet tab at
PMCID: PMC2791446  PMID: 20027228
20.  Genomic Organization, Phylogenetic Comparison and Differential Expression of the SBP-Box Family Genes in Grape 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e59358.
The SBP-box gene family is specific to plants and encodes a class of zinc finger-containing transcription factors with a broad range of functions. Although SBP-box genes have been identified in numerous plants including green algae, moss, silver birch, snapdragon, Arabidopsis, rice and maize, there is little information concerning SBP-box genes, or the corresponding miR156/157, function in grapevine.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Eighteen SBP-box gene family members were identified in Vitis vinifera, twelve of which bore sequences that were complementary to miRNA156/157. Phylogenetic reconstruction demonstrated that plant SBP-domain proteins could be classified into seven subgroups, with the V. vinifera SBP-domain proteins being more closely related to SBP-domain proteins from dicotyledonous angiosperms than those from monocotyledonous angiosperms. In addition, synteny analysis between grape and Arabidopsis demonstrated that homologs of several grape SBP genes were found in corresponding syntenic blocks of Arabidopsis. Expression analysis of the grape SBP-box genes in various organs and at different stages of fruit development in V. quinquangularis ‘Shang-24’ revealed distinct spatiotemporal patterns. While the majority of the grape SBP-box genes lacking a miR156/157 target site were expressed ubiquitously and constitutively, most genes bearing a miR156/157 target site exhibited distinct expression patterns, possibly due to the inhibitory role of the microRNA. Furthermore, microarray data mining and quantitative real-time RT-PCR analysis identified several grape SBP-box genes that are potentially involved in the defense against biotic and abiotic stresses.
The results presented here provide a further understanding of SBP-box gene function in plants, and yields additional insights into the mechanism of stress management in grape, which may have important implications for the future success of this crop.
PMCID: PMC3601960  PMID: 23527172
21.  Identification of the dehydrin gene family from grapevine species and analysis of their responsiveness to various forms of abiotic and biotic stress 
BMC Plant Biology  2012;12:140.
Dehydrins (DHNs) protect plant cells from desiccation damage during environmental stress, and also participate in host resistance to various pathogens. In this study, we aimed to identify and characterize the DHN gene families from Vitis vinifera and wild V. yeshanensis, which is tolerant to both drought and cold, and moderately resistant to powdery mildew.
Four DHN genes were identified in both V. vinifera and V. yeshanensis, which shared a high sequence identity between the two species but little homology between the genes themselves. These genes were designated DHN1, DHN2, DHN3 and DHN4. All four of the DHN proteins were highly hydrophilic and were predicted to be intrinsically disordered, but they differed in their isoelectric points, kinase selectivities and number of functional motifs. Also, the expression profiles of each gene differed appreciably from one another. Grapevine DHN1 was not expressed in vegetative tissues under normal growth conditions, but was induced by drought, cold, heat, embryogenesis, as well as the application of abscisic acid (ABA), salicylic acid (SA), and methyl jasmonate (MeJA). It was expressed earlier in V. yeshanensis under drought conditions than in V. vinifera, and also exhibited a second round of up-regulation in V. yeshanensis following inoculation with Erysiphe necator, which was not apparent in V. vinifera. Like DHN1, DHN2 was induced by cold, heat, embryogenesis and ABA; however, it exhibited no responsiveness to drought, E. necator infection, SA or MeJA, and was also expressed constitutively in vegetative tissues under normal growth conditions. Conversely, DHN3 was only expressed during seed development at extremely low levels, and DHN4 was expressed specifically during late embryogenesis. Neither DHN3 nor DHN4 exhibited responsiveness to any of the treatments carried out in this study. Interestingly, the presence of particular cis-elements within the promoter regions of each gene was positively correlated with their expression profiles.
The grapevine DHN family comprises four divergent members. While it is likely that their functions overlap to some extent, it seems that DHN1 provides the main stress-responsive function. In addition, our results suggest a close relationship between expression patterns, physicochemical properties, and cis-regulatory elements in the promoter regions of the DHN genes.
PMCID: PMC3460772  PMID: 22882870
Grapevine; Dehydrin; Stress-induced expression; Powdery mildew; Promoter
22.  Transcriptional Analysis of Tendril and Inflorescence Development in Grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.) 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92339.
In grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.), the lateral meristem can give rise to either tendrils or inflorescences which are determined organs. To get insights into the processes of tendril and inflorescence development, we characterized the transcriptional variation taking place in both organs. The results of the global transcriptional analyses along tendril and inflorescence development suggested that these two homologous organs initially share a common transcriptional program related to cell proliferation and growth functions. In later developmental stages they showed organ specific gene expression programs related to the particular differentiation processes taking place in each organ. In this way, tendrils showed higher transcription of genes related to photosynthesis, hormone signaling and secondary metabolism than inflorescences, while inflorescences displayed higher transcriptional activity for genes encoding transcription factors, mainly those belonging to the MADS-box gene family. The expression profiles of selected transcription factors related with inflorescence and flower meristem identity and with flower organogenesis were generally conserved with respect to their homologs in model species. Regarding tendrils, it was interesting to find that genes related with reproductive development in other species were also recruited for grapevine tendril development. These results suggest a role for those genes in the regulation of basic cellular mechanisms common to both developmental processes.
PMCID: PMC3956920  PMID: 24637773
23.  Genome-Wide Analysis of the Expansin Gene Superfamily Reveals Grapevine-Specific Structural and Functional Characteristics 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e62206.
Expansins are proteins that loosen plant cell walls in a pH-dependent manner, probably by increasing the relative movement among polymers thus causing irreversible expansion. The expansin superfamily (EXP) comprises four distinct families: expansin A (EXPA), expansin B (EXPB), expansin-like A (EXLA) and expansin-like B (EXLB). There is experimental evidence that EXPA and EXPB proteins are required for cell expansion and developmental processes involving cell wall modification, whereas the exact functions of EXLA and EXLB remain unclear. The complete grapevine (Vitis vinifera) genome sequence has allowed the characterization of many gene families, but an exhaustive genome-wide analysis of expansin gene expression has not been attempted thus far.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We identified 29 EXP superfamily genes in the grapevine genome, representing all four EXP families. Members of the same EXP family shared the same exon–intron structure, and phylogenetic analysis confirmed a closer relationship between EXP genes from woody species, i.e. grapevine and poplar (Populus trichocarpa), compared to those from Arabidopsis thaliana and rice (Oryza sativa). We also identified grapevine-specific duplication events involving the EXLB family. Global gene expression analysis confirmed a strong correlation among EXP genes expressed in mature and green/vegetative samples, respectively, as reported for other gene families in the recently-published grapevine gene expression atlas. We also observed the specific co-expression of EXLB genes in woody organs, and the involvement of certain grapevine EXP genes in berry development and post-harvest withering.
Our comprehensive analysis of the grapevine EXP superfamily confirmed and extended current knowledge about the structural and functional characteristics of this gene family, and also identified properties that are currently unique to grapevine expansin genes. Our data provide a model for the functional characterization of grapevine gene families by combining phylogenetic analysis with global gene expression profiling.
PMCID: PMC3628503  PMID: 23614035
24.  Increasing the source/sink ratio in Vitis vinifera (cv Sangiovese) induces extensive transcriptome reprogramming and modifies berry ripening 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:631.
Cluster thinning is an agronomic practice in which a proportion of berry clusters are removed from the vine to increase the source/sink ratio and improve the quality of the remaining berries. Until now no transcriptomic data have been reported describing the mechanisms that underlie the agronomic and biochemical effects of thinning.
We profiled the transcriptome of Vitis vinifera cv. Sangiovese berries before and after thinning at veraison using a genome-wide microarray representing all grapevine genes listed in the latest V1 gene prediction. Thinning increased the source/sink ratio from 0.6 to 1.2 m2 leaf area per kg of berries and boosted the sugar and anthocyanin content at harvest. Extensive transcriptome remodeling was observed in thinned vines 2 weeks after thinning and at ripening. This included the enhanced modulation of genes that are normally regulated during berry development and the induction of a large set of genes that are not usually expressed.
Cluster thinning has a profound effect on several important cellular processes and metabolic pathways including carbohydrate metabolism and the synthesis and transport of secondary products. The integrated agronomic, biochemical and transcriptomic data revealed that the positive impact of cluster thinning on final berry composition reflects a much more complex outcome than simply enhancing the normal ripening process.
PMCID: PMC3283566  PMID: 22192855
25.  Characterization of a putative grapevine Zn transporter, VvZIP3, suggests its involvement in early reproductive development in Vitis vinifera L 
BMC Plant Biology  2012;12:111.
Zinc (Zn) deficiency is one of the most widespread mineral nutritional problems that affect normal development in plants. Because Zn cannot passively diffuse across cell membranes, it must be transported into intracellular compartments for all biological processes where Zn is required. Several members of the Zinc-regulated transporters, Iron-regulated transporter-like Protein (ZIP) gene family have been characterized in plants, and have shown to be involved in metal uptake and transport. This study describes the first putative Zn transporter in grapevine. Unravelling its function may explain an important symptom of Zn deficiency in grapevines, which is the production of clusters with fewer and usually smaller berries than normal.
We identified and characterized a putative Zn transporter from berries of Vitis vinifera L., named VvZIP3. Compared to other members of the ZIP family identified in the Vitis vinifera L. genome, VvZIP3 is mainly expressed in reproductive tissue - specifically in developing flowers - which correlates with the high Zn accumulation in these organs. Contrary to this, the low expression of VvZIP3 in parthenocarpic berries shows a relationship with the lower Zn accumulation in this tissue than in normal seeded berries where its expression is induced by Zn. The predicted protein sequence indicates strong similarity with several members of the ZIP family from Arabidopsis thaliana and other species. Moreover, VvZIP3 complemented the growth defect of a yeast Zn-uptake mutant, ZHY3, and is localized in the plasma membrane of plant cells, suggesting that VvZIP3 has the function of a Zn uptake transporter.
Our results suggest that VvZIP3 encodes a putative plasma membrane Zn transporter protein member of the ZIP gene family that might play a role in Zn uptake and distribution during the early reproductive development in Vitis vinifera L., indicating that the availability of this micronutrient may be relevant for reproductive development.
PMCID: PMC3432002  PMID: 22824090

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