Changes in carbohydrate metabolism during grape berry development play a central role in shaping the final composition of the fruit. The present work aimed to identify metabolic switches during grape development and to provide insights into the timing of developmental regulation of carbohydrate metabolism. Metabolites from central carbon metabolism were measured using high-pressure anion-exchange chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry and enzymatic assays during the development of grape berries from either field-grown vines or fruiting cuttings grown in the greenhouse. Principal component analysis readily discriminated the various stages of berry development, with similar trajectories for field-grown and greenhouse samples. This showed that each stage of fruit development had a characteristic metabolic profile and provided compelling evidence that the fruit-bearing cuttings are a useful model system to investigate regulation of central carbon metabolism in grape berry. The metabolites measured showed tight coordination within their respective pathways, clustering into sugars and sugar-phosphate metabolism, glycolysis, and the tricarboxylic acid cycle. In addition, there was a pronounced shift in metabolism around veraison, characterized by rapidly increasing sugar levels and decreasing organic acids. In contrast, glycolytic intermediates and sugar phosphates declined before veraison but remained fairly stable post-veraison. In summary, these detailed and comprehensive metabolite analyses revealed the timing of important switches in primary carbohydrate metabolism, which could be related to transcriptional and developmental changes within the berry to achieve an integrated understanding of grape berry development. The results are discussed in a meta-analysis comparing metabolic changes in climacteric versus non-climacteric fleshy fruits.
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