Fruit ripening is a complex and highly coordinated developmental process involving the expression of many ripening-related genes under the control of a network of signalling pathways. The hormonal control of climacteric fruit ripening, especially ethylene perception and signalling transduction in tomato has been well characterized. Additionally, great strides have been made in understanding some of the major regulatory switches (transcription factors such as RIPENING-INHIBITOR and other transcriptional regulators such as COLOURLESS NON-RIPENING, TOMATO AGAMOUS-LIKE1 and ETHYLENE RESPONSE FACTORs), that are involved in tomato fruit ripening. In contrast, the regulatory network related to non-climacteric fruit ripening remains poorly understood. However, some of the most recent breakthrough research data have provided several lines of evidences for abscisic acid- and sucrose-mediated ripening of strawberry, a non-climacteric fruit model. In this review, we discuss the most recent research findings concerning the hormonal regulation of fleshy fruit ripening and their cross-talk and the future challenges taking tomato as a climacteric fruit model and strawberry as a non-climacteric fruit model. We also highlight the possible contribution of epigenetic changes including the role of plant microRNAs, which is opening new avenues and great possibilities in the fields of fruit-ripening research and postharvest biology.
In photoperiodic flowering, long-day (LD) plants are induced to flower seasonally when the daylight hours are long, whereas flowering in short-day (SD) plants is promoted under short photoperiods. According to the widely accepted external coincidence model, flowering occurs in LD Arabidopsis when the circadian rhythm of the gene CONSTANS (CO) peaks in the afternoon, when it is light during long days but dark when the days are short. Nevertheless, extending this explanation to SD flowering in rice, Oriza sativa, requires LD and SD plants to have 'opposite light requirements' as the CO orthologue in rice, HEADING-DATE1 (Hd1), promotes flowering only under short photoperiods. This report proposes a role of the plant's solar rhythm in promoting seasonal flowering. The interaction between rhythmic genes entrained to the solar clock and those entrained to the circadian clock form the basis of an internal coincidence model that explains both LD and SD flowering equally well. The model invokes no presumption of opposite light requirements between LD and SD plants, and further argues against any specific requirement of either light or darkness for SD flowering. Internal coincidence predicts the inhibition of SD flowering of the rice plant by a night break (a brief interruption of light), while it also provides a plausible explanation for how a judiciously timed night break promotes Arabidopsis flowering even on short days. It is the timing of the light transitions (sunrise and sunset) rather than the duration of light or darkness per se that regulates photoperiod-controlled flowering.
Hevea brasiliensis is the most widely cultivated species for commercial production of natural rubber (cis-polyisoprene). In this study, 10,040 expressed sequence tags (ESTs) were generated from the latex of the rubber tree, which represents the cytoplasmic content of a single cell type, in order to analyse the latex transcription profile with emphasis on rubber biosynthesis-related genes. A total of 3,441 unique transcripts (UTs) were obtained after quality editing and assembly of EST sequences. Functional classification of UTs according to the Gene Ontology convention showed that 73.8% were related to genes of unknown function. Among highly expressed ESTs, a significant proportion encoded proteins related to rubber biosynthesis and stress or defence responses. Sequences encoding rubber particle membrane proteins (RPMPs) belonging to three protein families accounted for 12% of the ESTs. Characterization of these ESTs revealed nine RPMP variants (7.9-27 kDa) including the 14 kDa REF (rubber elongation factor) and 22 kDa SRPP (small rubber particle protein). The expression of multiple RPMP isoforms in latex was shown using antibodies against REF and SRPP. Both EST and quantitative reverse transcription-PCR (QRT-PCR) analyses demonstrated REF and SRPP to be the most abundant transcripts in latex. Besides rubber biosynthesis, comparative sequence analysis showed that the RPMPs are highly similar to sequences in the plant kingdom having stress-related functions. Implications of the RPMP function in cis-polyisoprene biosynthesis in the context of transcript abundance and differential gene expression are discussed.
The cytosolic mevalonate (MVA) pathway in Hevea brasiliensis latex is the conventionally accepted pathway which provides isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) for cis-polyisoprene (rubber) biosynthesis. However, the plastidic 2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 4-phosphate (MEP) pathway may be an alternative source of IPP since its more recent discovery in plants. Quantitative RT-PCR (qRT-PCR) expression profiles of genes from both pathways in latex showed that subcellular compartmentalization of IPP for cis-polyisoprene synthesis is related to the degree of plastidic carotenoid synthesis. From this, the occurrence of two schemes of IPP partitioning and utilization within one species is proposed whereby the supply of IPP for cis-polyisoprene from the MEP pathway is related to carotenoid production in latex. Subsequently, a set of latex unique gene transcripts was sequenced and assembled and they were then mapped to IPP-requiring pathways. Up to eight such pathways, including cis-polyisoprene biosynthesis, were identified. Our findings on pre- and post-IPP metabolic routes form an important aspect of a pathway knowledge-driven approach to enhancing cis-polyisoprene biosynthesis in transgenic rubber trees.
Natural rubber (polyisoprene) from the rubber tree Hevea brasiliensis is synthesized by specialized cells called laticifers. It is not clear how rubber particles arise, although one hypothesis is that they derive from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membrane. Here we cloned the genes encoding four key proteins found in association with rubber particles and studied their intracellular localization by transient expression in Nicotiana benthamiana leaves. We show that, while the cis-prenyltransferase (CPT), responsible for the synthesis of long polyisoprene chains, is a soluble, cytosolic protein, other rubber particle proteins such as rubber elongation factor (REF), small rubber particle protein (SRPP) and Hevea rubber transferase 1-REF bridging protein (HRBP) are associated with the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). We also show that SRPP can recruit CPT to the ER and that interaction of CPT with HRBP leads to both proteins relocating to the plasma membrane. We discuss these results in the context of the biogenesis of rubber particles.