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Front Plant Sci. 2017 Jun 21;8:1093. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2017.01093. eCollection 2017.

Abscisic Acid Is a Major Regulator of Grape Berry Ripening Onset: New Insights into ABA Signaling Network.

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Research and Innovation Centre, Fondazione Edmund MachSan Michele all'Adige, Italy.
Dipartimento di Bioscienze, Università degli Studi di MilanoMilan, Italy.
Department of Physics, Bioorganic Chemistry Lab, University of TrentoTrento, Italy.
Istituto di Biofisica, Consiglio Nazionale delle RicercheTrento, Italy.


Grapevine is a world-wide cultivated economically relevant crop. The process of berry ripening is non-climacteric and does not rely on the sole ethylene signal. Abscisic acid (ABA) is recognized as an important hormone of ripening inception and color development in ripening berries. In order to elucidate the effect of this signal at the molecular level, pre-véraison berries were treated ex vivo for 20 h with 0.2 mM ABA and berry skin transcriptional modulation was studied by RNA-seq after the treatment and 24 h later, in the absence of exogenous ABA. This study highlighted that a small amount of ABA triggered its own biosynthesis and had a transcriptome-wide effect (1893 modulated genes) characterized by the amplification of the transcriptional response over time. By comparing this dataset with the many studies on ripening collected within the grapevine transcriptomic compendium Vespucci, an extended overlap between ABA- and ripening modulated gene sets was observed (71% of the genes), underpinning the role of this hormone in the regulation of berry ripening. The signaling network of ABA, encompassing ABA metabolism, transport and signaling cascade, has been analyzed in detail and expanded based on knowledge from other species in order to provide an integrated molecular description of this pathway at berry ripening onset. Expression data analysis was combined with in silico promoter analysis to identify candidate target genes of ABA responsive element binding protein 2 (VvABF2), a key upstream transcription factor of the ABA signaling cascade which is up-regulated at véraison and also by ABA treatments. Two transcription factors, VvMYB143 and VvNAC17, and two genes involved in protein degradation, Armadillo-like and Xerico-like genes, were selected for in vivo validation by VvABF2-mediated promoter trans-activation in tobacco. VvNAC17 and Armadillo-like promoters were induced by ABA via VvABF2, while VvMYB143 responded to ABA in a VvABF2-independent manner. This knowledge of the ABA cascade in berry skin contributes not only to the understanding of berry ripening regulation but might be useful to other areas of viticultural interest, such as bud dormancy regulation and drought stress tolerance.


AREB/ABF; Abscisic acid (ABA); RNA sequencing; berry ripening; grapevine (Vitis vinifera); promoter analysis

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