Tight control of cell/tissue identity is essential for a correct and functional organ patterning, an important component of overall fruit development and eventual maturation and ripening. Despite many investigations regarding the molecular determinants of cell identity in fruits of different species, a useful model able to depict the regulatory networks governing this relevant part of fruit development is still missing. Here we described the peach fruit as a system to link the phenotype of a slow ripening (SR) selection to an altered transcriptional regulation of genes involved in determination of mesocarp cell identity providing insight toward molecular regulation of fruit tissue formation. Morpho-anatomical observations and metabolomics analyses performed during fruit development on the reference cultivar Fantasia, compared to SR, revealed that the mesocarp of SR maintained typical immaturity traits (e.g. small cell size, high amino acid contents and reduced sucrose) throughout development, along with a strong alteration of phenylpropanoid contents, resulting in accumulation of phenylalanine and lignin. These findings suggest that the SR mesocarp is phenotypically similar to a lignifying endocarp. To test this hypothesis, the expression of genes putatively involved in determination of drupe tissues identity was assessed. Among these, the peach HEC3-like gene FLESHY showed a strongly altered expression profile consistent with pit hardening and fruit ripening, generated at a post-transcriptional level. A double function for FLESHY in channelling the phenylpropanoid pathway to either lignin or flavour/aroma is suggested, along with its possible role in triggering auxin-ethylene cross talk at the start of ripening.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 5, 2016
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