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1.  Proteome Regulation during Olea europaea Fruit Development 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53563.
Widespread in the Mediterranean basin, Olea europaea trees are gaining worldwide popularity for the nutritional and cancer-protective properties of the oil, mechanically extracted from ripe fruits. Fruit development is a physiological process with remarkable impact on the modulation of the biosynthesis of compounds affecting the quality of the drupes as well as the final composition of the olive oil. Proteomics offers the possibility to dig deeper into the major changes during fruit development, including the important phase of ripening, and to classify temporal patterns of protein accumulation occurring during these complex physiological processes.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In this work, we started monitoring the proteome variations associated with olive fruit development by using comparative proteomics coupled to mass spectrometry. Proteins extracted from drupes at three different developmental stages were separated on 2-DE and subjected to image analysis. 247 protein spots were revealed as differentially accumulated. Proteins were identified from a total of 121 spots and discussed in relation to olive drupe metabolic changes occurring during fruit development. In order to evaluate if changes observed at the protein level were consistent with changes of mRNAs, proteomic data produced in the present work were compared with transcriptomic data elaborated during previous studies.
This study identifies a number of proteins responsible for quality traits of cv. Coratina, with particular regard to proteins associated to the metabolism of fatty acids, phenolic and aroma compounds. Proteins involved in fruit photosynthesis have been also identified and their pivotal contribution in oleogenesis has been discussed. To date, this study represents the first characterization of the olive fruit proteome during development, providing new insights into fruit metabolism and oil accumulation process.
PMCID: PMC3547947  PMID: 23349718
2.  Olive phenolic compounds: metabolic and transcriptional profiling during fruit development 
BMC Plant Biology  2012;12:162.
Olive (Olea europaea L.) fruits contain numerous secondary metabolites, primarily phenolics, terpenes and sterols, some of which are particularly interesting for their nutraceutical properties. This study will attempt to provide further insight into the profile of olive phenolic compounds during fruit development and to identify the major genetic determinants of phenolic metabolism.
The concentration of the major phenolic compounds, such as oleuropein, demethyloleuropein, 3–4 DHPEA-EDA, ligstroside, tyrosol, hydroxytyrosol, verbascoside and lignans, were measured in the developing fruits of 12 olive cultivars. The content of these compounds varied significantly among the cultivars and decreased during fruit development and maturation, with some compounds showing specificity for certain cultivars. Thirty-five olive transcripts homologous to genes involved in the pathways of the main secondary metabolites were identified from the massive sequencing data of the olive fruit transcriptome or from cDNA-AFLP analysis. Their mRNA levels were determined using RT-qPCR analysis on fruits of high- and low-phenolic varieties (Coratina and Dolce d’Andria, respectively) during three different fruit developmental stages. A strong correlation was observed between phenolic compound concentrations and transcripts putatively involved in their biosynthesis, suggesting a transcriptional regulation of the corresponding pathways. OeDXS, OeGES, OeGE10H and OeADH, encoding putative 1-deoxy-D-xylulose-5-P synthase, geraniol synthase, geraniol 10-hydroxylase and arogenate dehydrogenase, respectively, were almost exclusively present at 45 days after flowering (DAF), suggesting that these compounds might play a key role in regulating secoiridoid accumulation during fruit development.
Metabolic and transcriptional profiling led to the identification of some major players putatively involved in biosynthesis of secondary compounds in the olive tree. Our data represent the first step towards the functional characterisation of important genes for the determination of olive fruit quality.
PMCID: PMC3480905  PMID: 22963618
Olea europaea; Phenolics; Secoiridoids; RT-qPCR; Transcriptome; Secondary metabolism
3.  Molecular interactions between the olive and the fruit fly Bactrocera oleae 
BMC Plant Biology  2012;12:86.
The fruit fly Bactrocera oleae is the primary biotic stressor of cultivated olives, causing direct and indirect damages that significantly reduce both the yield and the quality of olive oil. To study the olive-B. oleae interaction, we conducted transcriptomic and proteomic investigations of the molecular response of the drupe. The identifications of genes and proteins involved in the fruit response were performed using a Suppression Subtractive Hybridisation technique and a combined bi-dimensional electrophoresis/nanoLC-ESI-LIT-MS/MS approach, respectively.
We identified 196 ESTs and 26 protein spots as differentially expressed in olives with larval feeding tunnels. A bioinformatic analysis of the identified non-redundant EST and protein collection indicated that different molecular processes were affected, such as stress response, phytohormone signalling, transcriptional control and primary metabolism, and that a considerable proportion of the ESTs could not be classified. The altered expression of 20 transcripts was also analysed by real-time PCR, and the most striking differences were further confirmed in the fruit of a different olive variety. We also cloned the full-length coding sequences of two genes, Oe-chitinase I and Oe-PR27, and showed that these are wound-inducible genes and activated by B. oleae punctures.
This study represents the first report that reveals the molecular players and signalling pathways involved in the interaction between the olive fruit and its most damaging biotic stressor. Drupe response is complex, involving genes and proteins involved in photosynthesis as well as in the production of ROS, the activation of different stress response pathways and the production of compounds involved in direct defence against phytophagous larvae. Among the latter, trypsin inhibitors should play a major role in drupe resistance reaction.
PMCID: PMC3733423  PMID: 22694925
Olea europea; Pest; SSH; Proteomics; Defence; Fruit fly
4.  Computational annotation of genes differentially expressed along olive fruit development 
BMC Plant Biology  2009;9:128.
Olea europaea L. is a traditional tree crop of the Mediterranean basin with a worldwide economical high impact. Differently from other fruit tree species, little is known about the physiological and molecular basis of the olive fruit development and a few sequences of genes and gene products are available for olive in public databases. This study deals with the identification of large sets of differentially expressed genes in developing olive fruits and the subsequent computational annotation by means of different software.
mRNA from fruits of the cv. Leccino sampled at three different stages [i.e., initial fruit set (stage 1), completed pit hardening (stage 2) and veraison (stage 3)] was used for the identification of differentially expressed genes putatively involved in main processes along fruit development. Four subtractive hybridization libraries were constructed: forward and reverse between stage 1 and 2 (libraries A and B), and 2 and 3 (libraries C and D). All sequenced clones (1,132 in total) were analyzed through BlastX against non-redundant NCBI databases and about 60% of them showed similarity to known proteins. A total of 89 out of 642 differentially expressed unique sequences was further investigated by Real-Time PCR, showing a validation of the SSH results as high as 69%. Library-specific cDNA repertories were annotated according to the three main vocabularies of the gene ontology (GO): cellular component, biological process and molecular function. BlastX analysis, GO terms mapping and annotation analysis were performed using the Blast2GO software, a research tool designed with the main purpose of enabling GO based data mining on sequence sets for which no GO annotation is yet available. Bioinformatic analysis pointed out a significantly different distribution of the annotated sequences for each GO category, when comparing the three fruit developmental stages. The olive fruit-specific transcriptome dataset was used to query all known KEGG (Kyoto Encyclopaedia of Genes and Genomes) metabolic pathways for characterizing and positioning retrieved EST records. The integration of the olive sequence datasets within the MapMan platform for microarray analysis allowed the identification of specific biosynthetic pathways useful for the definition of key functional categories in time course analyses for gene groups.
The bioinformatic annotation of all gene sequences was useful to shed light on metabolic pathways and transcriptional aspects related to carbohydrates, fatty acids, secondary metabolites, transcription factors and hormones as well as response to biotic and abiotic stresses throughout olive drupe development. These results represent a first step toward both functional genomics and systems biology research for understanding the gene functions and regulatory networks in olive fruit growth and ripening.
PMCID: PMC2774695  PMID: 19852839
5.  Comparative 454 pyrosequencing of transcripts from two olive genotypes during fruit development 
BMC Genomics  2009;10:399.
Despite its primary economic importance, genomic information on olive tree is still lacking. 454 pyrosequencing was used to enrich the very few sequence data currently available for the Olea europaea species and to identify genes involved in expression of fruit quality traits.
Fruits of Coratina, a widely cultivated variety characterized by a very high phenolic content, and Tendellone, an oleuropein-lacking natural variant, were used as starting material for monitoring the transcriptome. Four different cDNA libraries were sequenced, respectively at the beginning and at the end of drupe development. A total of 261,485 reads were obtained, for an output of about 58 Mb. Raw sequence data were processed using a four step pipeline procedure and data were stored in a relational database with a web interface.
Massively parallel sequencing of different fruit cDNA collections has provided large scale information about the structure and putative function of gene transcripts accumulated during fruit development. Comparative transcript profiling allowed the identification of differentially expressed genes with potential relevance in regulating the fruit metabolism and phenolic content during ripening.
PMCID: PMC2748093  PMID: 19709400

Results 1-5 (5)