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The molecular regulation of stilbene phytoalexin biosynthesis in Vitis vinifera during grape berry development

by Anthony J. Bais, Peter J. Murphy, Ian B. Dry
Australian Journal of Plant Physiology ()

Abstract

The molecular regulation of stilbene phytoalexin biosynthesis in developing <i>Vitis vinifera</i> L. grape berries was investigated using a UV induction system. Berries were collected at 1, 5, 10 and 16 weeks post-flowering from the cultivars Shiraz, Semillon, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay and the skins analysed for resveratrol production following irradiation with UV-C light. The rate and maximal level of resveratrol accumulation increased markedly in berries sampled from 1–5 weeks post-flowering and then dramatically declined in maturing berries sampled from 10–16 weeks post-flowering in all cultivars. In berries sampled at 1 and 5 weeks post-flowering, maximal levels of resveratrol accumulation were recorded at incubation periods of 24 and 48 h respectively whereas maximal resveratrol levels were not recorded in week 16 berry skins until 72 h after UV-treatment. Gene expression analysis indicated that stilbene synthase (STS) mRNA accumulated within 4–8 h of UV treatment in berries sampled at 1 and 5 weeks post-flowering, but did not increase in week 16 berries until 24–48 h following UV-irradiation. Furthermore, the overall level of STS gene expression declined in berries sampled 10–16 weeks post-flowering. The results demonstrate that inducible stilbene accumulation in ripening grape berries is highly regulated at the level of STS gene transcription. This decline in inducible STS gene expression may be a major factor contributing to the increased susceptibility of ripening grape berries to <i>Botrytis cinerea</i> infection.</p>

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