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J Exp Bot. 2008;59(10):2565-78. doi: 10.1093/jxb/ern135. Epub 2008 May 28.

Sugars and flowering in the grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.).

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  • 1URVVC-EA 2069, Stress, Défenses et Reproduction des Plantes, Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne, BP 1039, F-51687 Reims cedex 2, France.


Sugars play an important role in grapevine flowering. This complex process from inflorescence initiation to fruit maturity takes two growing seasons. Currently, most of the available data concern the involvement of sugars as energy sources during the formation of reproductive structures from initiation of inflorescences during the summer of the first year, until flower opening during the following spring. Sugars devoted to the development of reproductive structures are supplied either by wood reserves or by photosynthesis in leaves or inflorescences, depending on the stage of development. Female meiosis appears to be a key point in the success of flower formation because (i) flowers are vulnerable at this stage and (ii) it corresponds in the whole plant to the transition between reserve mobilization from perennial organs (roots, trunk, and canes) towards efficient leaf photosynthesis. The perturbation of reserve replenishment during the previous year provokes perturbation in the development of inflorescences, whereas altering the photosynthetic sources affects the formation of flowers during the same year. In particular, a lack of sugar availability in flowers at female meiosis caused by various environmental or physiological fluctuations may lead to drastic flower abortion. Apart from energy, sugars also play roles as regulators of gene expression and as signal molecules that may be involved in stress responses. In the future, these two topics should be further investigated in the grapevine considering the sensitivity of flowers to environmental stresses at meiosis.

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