Summary Petal senescence in many species is regulated by ethylene but some flowers, such as those on the monocotyledonous plant Alstroemeria, var. Rebecca are ethylene insensitive. Changes in gene expression during the post-harvest senescence of Alstroemeria flowers were investigated using several different techniques. Suppressive subtractive hybridization (SSH) was used to obtain cDNA libraries enriched for genes expressed at selected stages of petal senescence. Sequencing of the EST clones obtained resulted in over 1000 sequences that represent approximately 500 different genes. Analysis of the potential functions of these genes provides a snapshot of the processes that are taking place during petal development. Both cell wall related genes and genes involved in metabolism were present at a higher proportion in the earlier stages. Genes encoding metal binding proteins (mostly metallothionein-like) were the major component of senescence enhanced libraries. This limited the diversity of genes identified showing differential expression at the later stages. Changes in the expression of all genes were analysed using microarray hybridization, and genes showing either up or down-regulation were identified. The expression pattern of a selection of genes was confirmed using Northern hybridization. Northern hybridization confirmed the up-regulation of metallothioneins after floral opening, however, this was not detected by the microarray analysis, indicating the importance of using a combination of methods to investigate gene expression patterns. Considerably more genes were up-regulated than down-regulated. This may reflect the need during Alstroemeria petal senescence for the expression of a whole new set of genes involved with degradation and mobilization. The potential uses of expression profiling to improve floral quality in breeding programmes or as a diagnostic tool are discussed.
Plant Biotechnology Journal – Wiley
Published: Mar 1, 2004
Keywords: senescence; petal; Alstroemeria ; EST; microarray; gene expression
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