Ripening of fleshy fruit is a complex developmental process involving the differentiation of tissues with separate functions. During grapevine berry ripening important processes contributing to table and wine grape quality take place, some of them flesh- or skin-specific. In this study, transcriptional profiles throughout flesh and skin ripening were followed during two different seasons in a table grape cultivar ‘Muscat Hamburg’ to determine tissue-specific as well as common developmental programs.
Using an updated GrapeGen Affymetrix GeneChip® annotation based on grapevine 12×v1 gene predictions, 2188 differentially accumulated transcripts between flesh and skin and 2839 transcripts differentially accumulated throughout ripening in the same manner in both tissues were identified. Transcriptional profiles were dominated by changes at the beginning of veraison which affect both pericarp tissues, although frequently delayed or with lower intensity in the skin than in the flesh. Functional enrichment analysis identified the decay on biosynthetic processes, photosynthesis and transport as a major part of the program delayed in the skin. In addition, a higher number of functional categories, including several related to macromolecule transport and phenylpropanoid and lipid biosynthesis, were over-represented in transcripts accumulated to higher levels in the skin. Functional enrichment also indicated auxin, gibberellins and bHLH transcription factors to take part in the regulation of pre-veraison processes in the pericarp, whereas WRKY and C2H2 family transcription factors seems to more specifically participate in the regulation of skin and flesh ripening, respectively.
A transcriptomic analysis indicates that a large part of the ripening program is shared by both pericarp tissues despite some components are delayed in the skin. In addition, important tissue differences are present from early stages prior to the ripening onset including tissue-specific regulators. Altogether, these findings provide key elements to understand berry ripening and its differential regulation in flesh and skin.