Terpenoids are among the most important constituents of grape flavour and wine bouquet, and serve as useful metabolite markers in viticulture and enology. Based on the initial 8-fold sequencing of a nearly homozygous Pinot noir inbred line, 89 putative terpenoid synthase genes (VvTPS) were predicted by in silico analysis of the grapevine (Vitis vinifera) genome assembly . The finding of this very large VvTPS family, combined with the importance of terpenoid metabolism for the organoleptic properties of grapevine berries and finished wines, prompted a detailed examination of this gene family at the genomic level as well as an investigation into VvTPS biochemical functions.
We present findings from the analysis of the up-dated 12-fold sequencing and assembly of the grapevine genome that place the number of predicted VvTPS genes at 69 putatively functional VvTPS, 20 partial VvTPS, and 63 VvTPS probable pseudogenes. Gene discovery and annotation included information about gene architecture and chromosomal location. A dense cluster of 45 VvTPS is localized on chromosome 18. Extensive FLcDNA cloning, gene synthesis, and protein expression enabled functional characterization of 39 VvTPS; this is the largest number of functionally characterized TPS for any species reported to date. Of these enzymes, 23 have unique functions and/or phylogenetic locations within the plant TPS gene family. Phylogenetic analyses of the TPS gene family showed that while most VvTPS form species-specific gene clusters, there are several examples of gene orthology with TPS of other plant species, representing perhaps more ancient VvTPS, which have maintained functions independent of speciation.
The highly expanded VvTPS gene family underpins the prominence of terpenoid metabolism in grapevine. We provide a detailed experimental functional annotation of 39 members of this important gene family in grapevine and comprehensive information about gene structure and phylogeny for the entire currently known VvTPS gene family.