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1.  Molecular Characteristics and Biochemical Functions of VpPR10s from Vitis pseudoreticulata Associated with Biotic and Abiotic Stresses 
Grapes are one of the world’s oldest and most important fruit crops. They are of high economic value in many countries, but the susceptibility of the dominant winegrape species Vitis vinifera to fungal disease is a significant problem. The Chinese wild grape species are a rich source of disease-resistance genes and these can be used to discover how disease resistance in V. vinifera grapevines might be enhanced. Pathogenesis-related (PR) 10 proteins are involved in the disease-response. Here, we use the genomic DNA of the Chinese wild species Vitis pseudoreticulata accession “Baihe-35-1” as the template to design specific primers based on VvPR10s sequences. We used overlap extension PCR to obtain the sequences: VpPR10.4, VpPR10.6, VpPR10.7 and VpPR10.9. The coding sequences of the VpPR10s were then cloned into the pGEX-4T-1 vector. The purified proteins VpPR10.4, VpPR10.6, VpPR10.7 and VpPR10.9 were used to analyse nuclease activity. Meanwhile, functional analysis of VpPR10s under different biotic and abiotic stresses was carried out to further clarify the disease-resistance mechanisms of the Chinese wild grapevine VpPR10 genes. The analysis of protein structure indicates that VpPR10.4 and VpPR10.7 had the P-loop domain and the Bet v 1 motif, which are a consistent feature of plant PR10. However, there was no P-loop domain or Bet v 1 motif in VpPR10.9 and we could not find the Bet v 1 motif in VpPR10.6. The results of the nuclease activity assay and of the functional analyses of VpPR10s under different biotic and abiotic stresses also confirm that VpPR10.4 and VpPR10.7 proteins have marked RNase, DNase, anti-fungal activities and respond to abiotic stresses. The VpPR10.6 and VpPR10.9 proteins do not have these activities and functions.
doi:10.3390/ijms151019162
PMCID: PMC4227267  PMID: 25340981
Vitis pseudoreticulata; pathogenesis-related protein 10; nuclease activity; anti-fungal activity; abiotic stresses
2.  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.
Background
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-12-140
PMCID: PMC3460772  PMID: 22882870
Grapevine; Dehydrin; Stress-induced expression; Powdery mildew; Promoter
3.  Genomic and transcriptomic analysis of the AP2/ERF superfamily in Vitis vinifera 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:719.
Background
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-719
PMCID: PMC3022922  PMID: 21171999
4.  Vv-AMP1, a ripening induced peptide from Vitis vinifera shows strong antifungal activity 
BMC Plant Biology  2008;8:75.
Background
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-8-75
PMCID: PMC2492866  PMID: 18611251
5.  The powdery mildew resistance gene REN1 co-segregates with an NBS-LRR gene cluster in two Central Asian grapevines 
BMC Genetics  2009;10:89.
Background
Grape powdery mildew is caused by the North American native pathogen Erysiphe necator. Eurasian Vitis vinifera varieties were all believed to be susceptible. REN1 is the first resistance gene naturally found in cultivated plants of Vitis vinifera.
Results
REN1 is present in 'Kishmish vatkana' and 'Dzhandzhal kara', two grapevines documented in Central Asia since the 1920's. These cultivars have a second-degree relationship (half sibs, grandparent-grandchild, or avuncular), and share by descent the chromosome on which the resistance allele REN1 is located. The REN1 interval was restricted to 1.4 cM using 38 SSR markers distributed across the locus and the segregation of the resistance phenotype in two progenies of collectively 461 offspring, derived from either resistant parent. The boundary markers delimit a 1.4-Mbp sequence in the PN40024 reference genome, which contains 27 genes with known functions, 2 full-length coiled-coil NBS-LRR genes, and 9 NBS-LRR pseudogenes. In the REN1 locus of PN40024, NBS genes have proliferated through a mixture of segmental duplications, tandem gene duplications, and intragenic recombination between paralogues, indicating that the REN1 locus has been inherently prone to producing genetic variation. Three SSR markers co-segregate with REN1, the outer ones confining the 908-kb array of NBS-LRR genes. Kinship and clustering analyses based on genetic distances with susceptible cultivars representative of Central Asian Vitis vinifera indicated that 'Kishmish vatkana' and 'Dzhandzhal kara' fit well into local germplasm. 'Kishmish vatkana' also has a parent-offspring relationship with the seedless table grape 'Sultanina'. In addition, the distant genetic relatedness to rootstocks, some of which are derived from North American species resistant to powdery mildew and have been used worldwide to guard against phylloxera since the late 1800's, argues against REN1 being infused into Vitis vinifera from a recent interspecific hybridisation.
Conclusion
The REN1 gene resides in an NBS-LRR gene cluster tightly delimited by two flanking SSR markers, which can assist in the selection of this DNA block in breeding between Vitis vinifera cultivars. The REN1 locus has multiple layers of structural complexity compared with its two closely related paralogous NBS clusters, which are located some 5 Mbp upstream and 4 Mbp downstream of the REN1 interval on the same chromosome.
doi:10.1186/1471-2156-10-89
PMCID: PMC2814809  PMID: 20042081
6.  Inspection of the Grapevine BURP Superfamily Highlights an Expansion of RD22 Genes with Distinctive Expression Features in Berry Development and ABA-Mediated Stress Responses 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e110372.
The RESPONSIVE TO DEHYDRATION 22 (RD22) gene is a molecular link between abscisic acid (ABA) signalling and abiotic stress responses. Its expression has been used as a reliable ABA early response marker. In Arabidopsis, the single copy RD22 gene possesses a BURP domain also located at the C-terminus of USP embryonic proteins and the beta subunit of polygalacturonases. In grapevine, a RD22 gene has been identified but putative paralogs are also found in the grape genome, possibly forming a large RD22 family in this species. In this work, we searched for annotations containing BURP domains in the Vitis vinifera genome. Nineteen proteins were defined by a comparative analysis between the two genome predictions and RNA-Seq data. These sequences were compared to other plant BURPs identified in previous genome surveys allowing us to reconceive group classifications based on phylogenetic relationships and protein motif occurrence. We observed a lineage-specific evolution of the RD22 family, with the biggest expansion in grapevine and poplar. In contrast, rice, sorghum and maize presented highly expanded monocot-specific groups. The Vitis RD22 group may have expanded from segmental duplications as most of its members are confined to a region in chromosome 4. The inspection of transcriptomic data revealed variable expression of BURP genes in vegetative and reproductive organs. Many genes were induced in specific tissues or by abiotic and biotic stresses. Three RD22 genes were further studied showing that they responded oppositely to ABA and to stress conditions. Our results show that the inclusion of RNA-Seq data is essential while describing gene families and improving gene annotations. Robust phylogenetic analyses including all BURP members from other sequenced species helped us redefine previous relationships that were erroneously established. This work provides additional evidence for RD22 genes serving as marker genes for different organs or stresses in grapevine.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0110372
PMCID: PMC4199669  PMID: 25330210
7.  Analyses of the oligopeptide transporter gene family in poplar and grape 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:465.
Background
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-12-465
PMCID: PMC3188535  PMID: 21943393
8.  Identification of microRNAs from Amur grape (vitis amurensis Rupr.) by deep sequencing and analysis of microRNA variations with bioinformatics 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:122.
Background
MicroRNA (miRNA) is a class of functional non-coding small RNA with 19-25 nucleotides in length while Amur grape (Vitis amurensis Rupr.) is an important wild fruit crop with the strongest cold resistance among the Vitis species, is used as an excellent breeding parent for grapevine, and has elicited growing interest in wine production. To date, there is a relatively large number of grapevine miRNAs (vv-miRNAs) from cultivated grapevine varieties such as Vitis vinifera L. and hybrids of V. vinifera and V. labrusca, but there is no report on miRNAs from Vitis amurensis Rupr, a wild grapevine species.
Results
A small RNA library from Amur grape was constructed and Solexa technology used to perform deep sequencing of the library followed by subsequent bioinformatics analysis to identify new miRNAs. In total, 126 conserved miRNAs belonging to 27 miRNA families were identified, and 34 known but non-conserved miRNAs were also found. Significantly, 72 new potential Amur grape-specific miRNAs were discovered. The sequences of these new potential va-miRNAs were further validated through miR-RACE, and accumulation of 18 new va-miRNAs in seven tissues of grapevines confirmed by real time RT-PCR (qRT-PCR) analysis. The expression levels of va-miRNAs in flowers and berries were found to be basically consistent in identity to those from deep sequenced sRNAs libraries of combined corresponding tissues. We also describe the conservation and variation of va-miRNAs using miR-SNPs and miR-LDs during plant evolution based on comparison of orthologous sequences, and further reveal that the number and sites of miR-SNP in diverse miRNA families exhibit distinct divergence. Finally, 346 target genes for the new miRNAs were predicted and they include a number of Amur grape stress tolerance genes and many genes regulating anthocyanin synthesis and sugar metabolism.
Conclusions
Deep sequencing of short RNAs from Amur grape flowers and berries identified 72 new potential miRNAs and 34 known but non-conserved miRNAs, indicating that specific miRNAs exist in Amur grape. These results show that a number of regulatory miRNAs exist in Amur grape and play an important role in Amur grape growth, development, and response to abiotic or biotic stress.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-13-122
PMCID: PMC3353164  PMID: 22455456
Amur grape; microRNA; Sequences evolution; Solexa sequencing; miR-RACE; qRT-PCR
9.  Evolution and expression analysis of the grape (Vitis vinifera L.) WRKY gene family 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2014;65(6):1513-1528.
Summary
Fifty-nine VvWRKY genes were identified. Phylogenetic tree and synteny analysis revealed the specific evolutionary relationship of these genes. Meanwhile, differential expression patterns indicated their possible roles in specific tissues and under different stresses.
WRKY proteins comprise a large family of transcription factors that play important roles in plant defence regulatory networks, including responses to various biotic and abiotic stresses. To date, no large-scale study of WRKY genes has been undertaken in grape (Vitis vinifera L.). In this study, a total of 59 putative grape WRKY genes (VvWRKY) were identified and renamed on the basis of their respective chromosome distribution. A multiple sequence alignment analysis using all predicted grape WRKY genes coding sequences, together with those from Arabidopsis thaliana and tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), indicated that the 59 VvWRKY genes can be classified into three main groups (I–III). An evaluation of the duplication events suggested that several WRKY genes arose before the divergence of the grape and Arabidopsis lineages. Moreover, expression profiles derived from semiquantitative PCR and real-time quantitative PCR analyses showed distinct expression patterns in various tissues and in response to different treatments. Four VvWRKY genes showed a significantly higher expression in roots or leaves, 55 responded to varying degrees to at least one abiotic stress treatment, and the expression of 38 were altered following powdery mildew (Erysiphe necator) infection. Most VvWRKY genes were downregulated in response to abscisic acid or salicylic acid treatments, while the expression of a subset was upregulated by methyl jasmonate or ethylene treatments.
doi:10.1093/jxb/eru007
PMCID: PMC3967086  PMID: 24510937
Evolution; expression profile analysis; grape (Vitis vinifera L.); phylogenetic analysis; synteny analysis; WRKY genes.
10.  Comprehensive characterization and RNA-Seq profiling of the HD-Zip transcription factor family in soybean (Glycine max) during dehydration and salt stress 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):950.
Background
The homeodomain leucine zipper (HD-Zip) transcription factor family is one of the largest plant specific superfamilies, and includes genes with roles in modulation of plant growth and response to environmental stresses. Many HD-Zip genes are characterized in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana), and members of the family are being investigated for abiotic stress responses in rice (Oryza sativa), maize (Zea mays), poplar (Populus trichocarpa) and cucumber (Cucmis sativus). Findings in these species suggest HD-Zip genes as high priority candidates for crop improvement.
Results
In this study we have identified members of the HD-Zip gene family in soybean cv. ‘Williams 82’, and characterized their expression under dehydration and salt stress. Homology searches with BLASTP and Hidden Markov Model guided sequence alignments identified 101 HD-Zip genes in the soybean genome. Phylogeny reconstruction coupled with domain and gene structure analyses using soybean, Arabidopsis, rice, grape (Vitis vinifera), and Medicago truncatula homologues enabled placement of these sequences into four previously described subfamilies. Of the 101 HD-Zip genes identified in soybean, 88 exist as whole-genome duplication-derived gene pairs, indicating high retention of these genes following polyploidy in Glycine ~13 Mya. The HD-Zip genes exhibit ubiquitous expression patterns across 24 conditions that include 17 tissues of soybean. An RNA-Seq experiment performed to study differential gene expression at 0, 1, 6 and 12 hr soybean roots under dehydration and salt stress identified 20 differentially expressed (DE) genes. Several of these DE genes are orthologs of genes previously reported to play a role under abiotic stress, implying conservation of HD-Zip gene functions across species. Screening of HD-Zip promoters identified transcription factor binding sites that are overrepresented in the DE genes under both dehydration and salt stress, providing further support for the role of HD-Zip genes in abiotic stress responses.
Conclusions
We provide a thorough description of soybean HD-Zip genes, and identify potential candidates with probable roles in dehydration and salt stress. Expression profiles generated for all soybean genes, under dehydration and salt stress, at four time points, will serve as an important resource for the soybean research community, and will aid in understanding plant responses to abiotic stress.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-950) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-950
PMCID: PMC4226900  PMID: 25362847
Soybean; HD-Zip; Transcription factor; Gene family; Whole-genome duplication; RNA-Seq; Dehydration stress; Salt stress; Abiotic stress
11.  Genomic Organization, Phylogenetic Comparison and Differential Expression of the SBP-Box Family Genes in Grape 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e59358.
Background
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0059358
PMCID: PMC3601960  PMID: 23527172
12.  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.
Background
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-12-111
PMCID: PMC3432002  PMID: 22824090
13.  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.
Background
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-13-691
PMCID: PMC3545830  PMID: 23227855
Grapevine; Illumina; Shiraz; RNA-seq; Transcriptome
14.  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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0078860
PMCID: PMC3823996  PMID: 24244377
15.  Identification of mildew resistance in wild and cultivated Central Asian grape germplasm 
BMC Plant Biology  2013;13:149.
Background
Cultivated grapevines, Vitis vinifera subsp. sativa, evolved from their wild relative, V. vinifera subsp. sylvestris. They were domesticated in Central Asia in the absence of the powdery mildew fungus, Erysiphe necator, which is thought to have originated in North America. However, powdery mildew resistance has previously been discovered in two Central Asian cultivars and in Chinese Vitis species.
Results
A set of 380 unique genotypes were evaluated with data generated from 34 simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers. The set included 306 V. vinifera cultivars, 40 accessions of V. vinifera subsp. sylvestris, and 34 accessions of Vitis species from northern Pakistan, Afghanistan and China. Based on the presence of four SSR alleles previously identified as linked to the powdery mildew resistance locus, Ren1, 10 new mildew resistant genotypes were identified in the test set: eight were V. vinifera cultivars and two were V. vinifera subsp. sylvestris based on flower and seed morphology. Sequence comparison of a 620 bp region that includes the Ren1-linked allele (143 bp) of the co-segregating SSR marker SC8-0071-014, revealed that the ten newly identified genotypes have sequences that are essentially identical to the previously identified mildew resistant V. vinifera cultivars: ‘Kishmish vatkana’ and ‘Karadzhandal’. Kinship analysis determined that three of the newly identified powdery mildew resistant accessions had a relationship with ‘Kishmish vatkana’ and ‘Karadzhandal’, and that six were not related to any other accession in this study set. Clustering procedures assigned accessions into three groups: 1) Chinese species; 2) a mixed group of cultivated and wild V. vinifera; and 3) table grape cultivars, including nine of the powdery mildew resistant accessions. Gene flow was detected among the groups.
Conclusions
This study provides evidence that powdery mildew resistance is present in V. vinifera subsp. sylvestris, the dioecious wild progenitor of the cultivated grape. Four first-degree parent progeny relationships were discovered among the hermaphroditic powdery mildew resistant cultivars, supporting the existence of intentional grape breeding efforts. Although several Chinese grape species are resistant to powdery mildew, no direct genetic link to the resistance found in V. vinifera could be established.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-13-149
PMCID: PMC3851849  PMID: 24093598
Powdery mildew resistance; Vitis vinifera subsp. sativa; Vitis vinifera subsp. sylvestris; Gene flow
16.  Change of Gene Structure and Function by Non-Homologous End-Joining, Homologous Recombination, and Transposition of DNA 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(6):e1000516.
An important objective in genome research is to relate genome structure to gene function. Sequence comparisons among orthologous and paralogous genes and their allelic variants can reveal sequences of functional significance. Here, we describe a 379-kb region on chromosome 1 of maize that enables us to reconstruct chromosome breakage, transposition, non-homologous end-joining, and homologous recombination events. Such a high-density composition of various mechanisms in a small chromosomal interval exemplifies the evolution of gene regulation and allelic diversity in general. It also illustrates the evolutionary pace of changes in plants, where many of the above mechanisms are of somatic origin. In contrast to animals, somatic alterations can easily be transmitted through meiosis because the germline in plants is contiguous to somatic tissue, permitting the recovery of such chromosomal rearrangements. The analyzed region contains the P1-wr allele, a variant of the genetically well-defined p1 gene, which encodes a Myb-like transcriptional activator in maize. The P1-wr allele consists of eleven nearly perfect P1-wr 12-kb repeats that are arranged in a tandem head-to-tail array. Although a technical challenge to sequence such a structure by shotgun sequencing, we overcame this problem by subcloning each repeat and ordering them based on nucleotide variations. These polymorphisms were also critical for recombination and expression analysis in presence and absence of the trans-acting epigenetic factor Ufo1. Interestingly, chimeras of the p1 and p2 genes, p2/p1 and p1/p2, are framing the P1-wr cluster. Reconstruction of sequence amplification steps at the p locus showed the evolution from a single Myb-homolog to the multi-gene P1-wr cluster. It also demonstrates how non-homologous end-joining can create novel gene fusions. Comparisons to orthologous regions in sorghum and rice also indicate a greater instability of the maize genome, probably due to diploidization following allotetraploidization.
Author Summary
Plant genomes analyzed to date contain 15% or more genes that are arranged in tandem arrays. Tandem duplications are a source for allelic variability since their homologous sequences can serve in recombination events. For example, unequal crossing over between amplified genes can result in contraction and expansion of the array. Tandem gene multiplications are also subject to repeat induced gene silencing (RIGS). Most importantly, gene duplications create the evolutionary potential for genetic novelty (neo- or subfunctionalization). In addition to homologous recombination during meiosis, illegitimate recombination in somatic tissues of plants can create events that potentially can be transmitted through reproductive tissue to further enrich genetic diversity. Here we illustrate the evolution from a single Myb homolog to a multigene cluster that exemplifies the evolution of the maize genome. We used the p locus to demonstrate how plant genomes expand by polyploidization, gene duplication, and transposition. We characterized in detail the structural changes at the p cluster that resulted from genomic instability. Because structure determines function, we linked genomic rearrangements at the P1-wr cluster to functional consequences. At the P1-wr locus, structural changes caused regulatory/transcriptional modifications that in turn give rise to phenotypic alterations.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000516
PMCID: PMC2686159  PMID: 19521498
17.  Genome-Wide Identification and Analysis of the TIFY Gene Family in Grape 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e44465.
Background
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0044465
PMCID: PMC3439424  PMID: 22984514
18.  Gene expression profiling in susceptible interaction of grapevine with its fungal pathogen Eutypa lata: Extending MapMan ontology for grapevine 
BMC Plant Biology  2009;9:104.
Background
Whole genome transcriptomics analysis is a very powerful approach because it gives an overview of the activity of genes in certain cells or tissue types. However, biological interpretation of such results can be rather tedious. MapMan is a software tool that displays large datasets (e.g. gene expression data) onto diagrams of metabolic pathways or other processes and thus enables easier interpretation of results. The grapevine (Vitis vinifera) genome sequence has recently become available bringing a new dimension into associated research. Two microarray platforms were designed based on the TIGR Gene Index database and used in several physiological studies.
Results
To enable easy and effective visualization of those and further experiments, annotation of Vitis vinifera Gene Index (VvGI version 5) to MapMan ontology was set up. Due to specificities of grape physiology, we have created new pictorial representations focusing on three selected pathways: carotenoid pathway, terpenoid pathway and phenylpropanoid pathway, the products of these pathways being important for wine aroma, flavour and colour, as well as plant defence against pathogens. This new tool was validated on Affymetrix microarrays data obtained during berry ripening and it allowed the discovery of new aspects in process regulation. We here also present results on transcriptional profiling of grape plantlets after exposal to the fungal pathogen Eutypa lata using Operon microarrays including visualization of results with MapMan. The data show that the genes induced in infected plants, encode pathogenesis related proteins and enzymes of the flavonoid metabolism, which are well known as being responsive to fungal infection.
Conclusion
The extension of MapMan ontology to grapevine together with the newly constructed pictorial representations for carotenoid, terpenoid and phenylpropanoid metabolism provide an alternative approach to the analysis of grapevine gene expression experiments performed with Affymetrix or Operon microarrays. MapMan was first validated on an already published dataset and later used to obtain an overview of transcriptional changes in a susceptible grapevine – Eutypa lata interaction at the time of symptoms development, where we showed that the responsive genes belong to families known to be involved in the plant defence towards fungal infection (PR-proteins, enzymes of the phenylpropanoid pathway).
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-9-104
PMCID: PMC2731041  PMID: 19656401
19.  Analysis of high-identity segmental duplications in the grapevine genome 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:436.
Background
Segmental duplications (SDs) are blocks of genomic sequence of 1-200 kb that map to different loci in a genome and share a sequence identity > 90%. SDs show at the sequence level the same characteristics as other regions of the human genome: they contain both high-copy repeats and gene sequences. SDs play an important role in genome plasticity by creating new genes and modeling genome structure. Although data is plentiful for mammals, not much was known about the representation of SDs in plant genomes. In this regard, we performed a genome-wide analysis of high-identity SDs on the sequenced grapevine (Vitis vinifera) genome (PN40024).
Results
We demonstrate that recent SDs (> 94% identity and >= 10 kb in size) are a relevant component of the grapevine genome (85 Mb, 17% of the genome sequence). We detected mitochondrial and plastid DNA and genes (10% of gene annotation) in segmentally duplicated regions of the nuclear genome. In particular, the nine highest copy number genes have a copy in either or both organelle genomes. Further we showed that several duplicated genes take part in the biosynthesis of compounds involved in plant response to environmental stress.
Conclusions
These data show the great influence of SDs and organelle DNA transfers in modeling the Vitis vinifera nuclear DNA structure as well as the impact of SDs in contributing to the adaptive capacity of grapevine and the nutritional content of grape products through genome variation. This study represents a step forward in the full characterization of duplicated genes important for grapevine cultural needs and human health.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-12-436
PMCID: PMC3179966  PMID: 21871077
20.  VpRFP1, a novel C4C4-type RING finger protein gene from Chinese wild Vitis pseudoreticulata, functions as a transcriptional activator in defence response of grapevine 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2011;62(15):5671-5682.
RING finger proteins comprise a large family and play important roles in regulation of growth and development, hormone signalling, and responses to biotic and abiotic stresses in plants. In this study, the identification and functional characterization of a C4C4-type RING finger protein gene from the Chinese wild grapevine Vitis pseudoreticulata (designated VpRFP1) are reported. VpRFP1 was initially identified as an expressed sequence tag (EST) from a cDNA library constructed from leaves of V. pseudoreticulata inoculated with the grapevine powdery mildew Uncinula necator. Sequence analysis of the deduced VpRFP1 protein based on the full-length cDNA revealed an N-terminal nuclear localization signal (NLS) and a C-terminal C4C4-type RING finger motif with the consensus sequence Cys-X2-Cys-X13-Cys-X1-Cys-X4-Cys-X2-Cys-X10-Cys-X2-Cys. Upon inoculation with U. necator, expression of VpRFP1 was rapidly induced to higher levels in mildew-resistant V. pseudoreticulata plants. In contrast, expression of VpRFP1 was down-regulated in mildew-susceptible V. vinifera plants. Western blotting using an antibody raised against VpRFP1 showed that VpRFP1 was also induced to higher levels in V. pseudoreticulata plants at 12–48 hours post-inoculation (hpi). However, there was only slight increase in VpRFP in V. vinifera plants in the same time frame, even though a more significant increase was observed at 96–144 hpi in these plants. Results from transactivation assays in yeast showed that the RING finger motif of VpRFP1 exhibited some activity of transcriptional activation; however, no activity was seen with the full-length VpRFP1. Overexpression of VpRFP1 in Arabidopsis plants was found to enhance resistance to Arabidopsis powdery mildew Golovinomyces cichoracearum, which seemed to be correlated with increased transcript levels of AtPR1 and AtPR2 in the pathogen-infected tissues. In addition, the Arabidopsis transgenic lines showed enhanced resistance to a virulent bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato DC3000. Taken together, the results suggested that VpRFP1 may be a transcriptional activator of defence-related genes in grapevines.
doi:10.1093/jxb/err253
PMCID: PMC3223060  PMID: 21862480
C4C4-type RING finger; Chinese wild Vitis pseudoreticulata; disease resistance; powdery mildew; VpRFP1
21.  Colour variation in red grapevines (Vitis vinifera L.): genomic organisation, expression of flavonoid 3'-hydroxylase, flavonoid 3',5'-hydroxylase genes and related metabolite profiling of red cyanidin-/blue delphinidin-based anthocyanins in berry skin 
BMC Genomics  2006;7:12.
Background
Structural genes of the phenyl-propanoid pathway which encode flavonoid 3'- and 3',5'-hydroxylases (F3'H and F3'5'H) have long been invoked to explain the biosynthesis of cyanidin- and delphinidin-based anthocyanin pigments in the so-called red cultivars of grapevine. The relative proportion of the two types of anthocyanins is largely under genetic control and determines the colour variation among red/purple/blue berry grape varieties and their corresponding wines.
Results
Gene fragments of VvF3'H and VvF3'5'H, that were isolated from Vitis vinifera 'Cabernet Sauvignon' using degenerate primers designed on plant homologous genes, translated into 313 and 239 amino acid protein fragments, respectively, with up to 76% and 82% identity to plant CYP75 cytochrome P450 monooxygenases. Putative function was assigned on the basis of sequence homology, expression profiling and its correlation with metabolite accumulation at ten different ripening stages. At the onset of colour transition, transcriptional induction of VvF3'H and VvF3'5'H was temporally coordinated with the beginning of anthocyanin biosynthesis, the expression being 2-fold and 50-fold higher, respectively, in red berries versus green berries. The peak of VvF3'5'H expression was observed two weeks later concomitantly with the increase of the ratio of delphinidin-/cyanidin-derivatives. The analysis of structural genomics revealed that two copies of VvF3'H are physically linked on linkage group no. 17 and several copies of VvF3'5'H are tightly clustered and embedded into a segmental duplication on linkage group no. 6, unveiling a high complexity when compared to other plant flavonoid hydroxylase genes known so far, mostly in ornamentals.
Conclusion
We have shown that genes encoding flavonoid 3'- and 3',5'-hydroxylases are expressed in any tissues of the grape plant that accumulate flavonoids and, particularly, in skin of ripening red berries that synthesise mostly anthocyanins. The correlation between transcript profiles and the kinetics of accumulation of red/cyanidin- and blue/delphinidin-based anthocyanins indicated that VvF3'H and VvF3'5'H expression is consistent with the chromatic evolution of ripening bunches. Local physical maps constructed around the VvF3'H and VvF3'5'H loci should help facilitate the identification of the regulatory elements of each isoform and the future manipulation of grapevine and wine colour through agronomical, environmental and biotechnological tools.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-7-12
PMCID: PMC1403756  PMID: 16433923
22.  Genome-wide identification of WRKY family genes and their response to cold stress in Vitis vinifera 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14:103.
Background
WRKY transcription factors are one of the largest families of transcriptional regulators in plants. WRKY genes are not only found to play significant roles in biotic and abiotic stress response, but also regulate growth and development. Grapevine (Vitis vinifera) production is largely limited by stressful climate conditions such as cold stress and the role of WRKY genes in the survival of grapevine under these conditions remains unknown.
Results
We identified a total of 59 VvWRKYs from the V. vinifera genome, belonging to four subgroups according to conserved WRKY domains and zinc-finger structure. The majority of VvWRKYs were expressed in more than one tissue among the 7 tissues examined which included young leaves, mature leaves, tendril, stem apex, root, young fruits and ripe fruits. Publicly available microarray data suggested that a subset of VvWRKYs was activated in response to diverse stresses. Quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) results demonstrated that the expression levels of 36 VvWRKYs are changed following cold exposure. Comparative analysis was performed on data from publicly available microarray experiments, previous global transcriptome analysis studies, and qRT-PCR. We identified 15 VvWRKYs in at least two of these databases which may relate to cold stress. Among them, the transcription of three genes can be induced by exogenous ABA application, suggesting that they can be involved in an ABA-dependent signaling pathway in response to cold stress.
Conclusions
We identified 59 VvWRKYs from the V. vinifera genome and 15 of them showed cold stress-induced expression patterns. These genes represented candidate genes for future functional analysis of VvWRKYs involved in the low temperature-related signal pathways in grape.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-14-103
PMCID: PMC4021059  PMID: 24755338
WRKY transcription factor family; Grapevine; Biotic and abiotic stress; Cold stress
23.  Comparative expression profiling in grape (Vitis vinifera) berries derived from frequency analysis of ESTs and MPSS signatures 
BMC Plant Biology  2008;8:53.
Background
Vitis vinifera (V. vinifera) is the primary grape species cultivated for wine production, with an industry valued annually in the billions of dollars worldwide. In order to sustain and increase grape production, it is necessary to understand the genetic makeup of grape species. Here we performed mRNA profiling using Massively Parallel Signature Sequencing (MPSS) and combined it with available Expressed Sequence Tag (EST) data. These tag-based technologies, which do not require a priori knowledge of genomic sequence, are well-suited for transcriptional profiling. The sequence depth of MPSS allowed us to capture and quantify almost all the transcripts at a specific stage in the development of the grape berry.
Results
The number and relative abundance of transcripts from stage II grape berries was defined using Massively Parallel Signature Sequencing (MPSS). A total of 2,635,293 17-base and 2,259,286 20-base signatures were obtained, representing at least 30,737 and 26,878 distinct sequences. The average normalized abundance per signature was ~49 TPM (Transcripts Per Million). Comparisons of the MPSS signatures with available Vitis species' ESTs and a unigene set demonstrated that 6,430 distinct contigs and 2,190 singletons have a perfect match to at least one MPSS signature. Among the matched sequences, ESTs were identified from tissues other than berries or from berries at different developmental stages. Additional MPSS signatures not matching to known grape ESTs can extend our knowledge of the V. vinifera transcriptome, particularly when these data are used to assist in annotation of whole genome sequences from Vitis vinifera.
Conclusion
The MPSS data presented here not only achieved a higher level of saturation than previous EST based analyses, but in doing so, expand the known set of transcripts of grape berries during the unique stage in development that immediately precedes the onset of ripening. The MPSS dataset also revealed evidence of antisense expression not previously reported in grapes but comparable to that reported in other plant species. Finally, we developed a novel web-based, public resource for utilization of the grape MPSS data [1].
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-8-53
PMCID: PMC2423195  PMID: 18474095
24.  Genomic analysis of NAC transcription factors in banana (Musa acuminata) and definition of NAC orthologous groups for monocots and dicots 
Plant Molecular Biology  2014;85(1-2):63-80.
Identifying the molecular mechanisms underlying tolerance to abiotic stresses is important in crop breeding. A comprehensive understanding of the gene families associated with drought tolerance is therefore highly relevant. NAC transcription factors form a large plant-specific gene family involved in the regulation of tissue development and responses to biotic and abiotic stresses. The main goal of this study was to set up a framework of orthologous groups determined by an expert sequence comparison of NAC genes from both monocots and dicots. In order to clarify the orthologous relationships among NAC genes of different species, we performed an in-depth comparative study of four divergent taxa, in dicots and monocots, whose genomes have already been completely sequenced: Arabidopsis thaliana, Vitis vinifera, Musa acuminata and Oryza sativa. Due to independent evolution, NAC copy number is highly variable in these plant genomes. Based on an expert NAC sequence comparison, we propose forty orthologous groups of NAC sequences that were probably derived from an ancestor gene present in the most recent common ancestor of dicots and monocots. These orthologous groups provide a curated resource for large-scale protein sequence annotation of NAC transcription factors. The established orthology relationships also provide a useful reference for NAC function studies in newly sequenced genomes such as M. acuminata and other plant species.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11103-013-0169-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s11103-013-0169-2
PMCID: PMC4151281  PMID: 24570169
Comparative genomics; NAC transcription factors; Phylogenetic analysis; Gene family; Expert annotation; Gene duplication
25.  A small XY chromosomal region explains sex determination in wild dioecious V. vinifera and the reversal to hermaphroditism in domesticated grapevines 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14(1):229.
Background
In Vitis vinifera L., domestication induced a dramatic change in flower morphology: the wild sylvestris subspecies is dioecious while hermaphroditism is largely predominant in the domesticated subsp. V. v. vinifera. The characterisation of polymorphisms in genes underlying the sex-determining chromosomal region may help clarify the history of domestication in grapevine and the evolution of sex chromosomes in plants. In the genus Vitis, sex determination is putatively controlled by one major locus with three alleles, male M, hermaphrodite H and female F, with an allelic dominance M > H > F. Previous genetic studies located the sex locus on chromosome 2. We used DNA polymorphisms of geographically diverse V. vinifera genotypes to confirm the position of this locus, to characterise the genetic diversity and traces of selection in candidate genes, and to explore the origin of hermaphroditism.
Results
In V. v. sylvestris, a sex-determining region of 154.8 kb, also present in other Vitis species, spans less than 1% of chromosome 2. It displays haplotype diversity, linkage disequilibrium and differentiation that typically correspond to a small XY sex-determining region with XY males and XX females. In male alleles, traces of purifying selection were found for a trehalose phosphatase, an exostosin and a WRKY transcription factor, with strikingly low polymorphism levels between distant geographic regions. Both diversity and network analysis revealed that H alleles are more closely related to M than to F alleles.
Conclusions
Hermaphrodite alleles appear to derive from male alleles of wild grapevines, with successive recombination events allowing import of diversity from the X into the Y chromosomal region and slowing down the expansion of the region into a full heteromorphic chromosome. Our data are consistent with multiple domestication events and show traces of introgression from other Asian Vitis species into the cultivated grapevine gene pool.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0229-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0229-z
PMCID: PMC4167142  PMID: 25179565
Dioecy; Domestication; Hermaphroditism; Sex chromosome; Vitis vinifera L

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