The oil palm (Elaeis guineensis), a monocotyledonous species in the family Arecaceae, has an extraordinarily oil rich fleshy mesocarp, and presents an original model to examine the ripening processes and regulation in this particular monocot fruit. Histochemical analysis and cell parameter measurements revealed cell wall and middle lamella expansion and degradation during ripening and in response to ethylene. Cell wall related transcript profiles suggest a transition from synthesis to degradation is under transcriptional control during ripening, in particular a switch from cellulose, hemicellulose, and pectin synthesis to hydrolysis and degradation. The data provide evidence for the transcriptional activation of expansin, polygalacturonase, mannosidase, beta-galactosidase, and xyloglucan endotransglucosylase/hydrolase proteins in the ripening oil palm mesocarp, suggesting widespread conservation of these activities during ripening for monocotyledonous and eudicotyledonous fruit types. Profiling of the most abundant oil palm polygalacturonase (EgPG4) and 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid oxidase (ACO) transcripts during development and in response to ethylene demonstrated both are sensitive markers of ethylene production and inducible gene expression during mesocarp ripening, and provide evidence for a conserved regulatory module between ethylene and cell wall pectin degradation. A comprehensive analysis of NAC transcription factors confirmed at least 10 transcripts from diverse NAC domain clades are expressed in the mesocarp during ripening, four of which are induced by ethylene treatment, with the two most inducible (EgNAC6 and EgNAC7) phylogenetically similar to the tomato NAC-NOR master-ripening regulator. Overall, the results provide evidence that despite the phylogenetic distance of the oil palm within the family Arecaceae from the most extensively studied monocot banana fruit, it appears ripening of divergent monocot and eudicot fruit lineages are regulated by evolutionarily conserved molecular physiological processes.
Tranbarger, T. J., Fooyontphanich, K., Roongsattham, P., Pizot, M., Collin, M., Jantasuriyarat, C., … Morcillo, F. (2017). Transcriptome analysis of cell wall and NAC domain transcription factor genes during Elaeis guineensis fruit ripening: Evidence for widespread conservation within monocot and eudicot lineages. Frontiers in Plant Science, 8. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2017.00603