Flower development and sex specification in wild grapevine

Miguel J esus Nunes Ramos, João Lucas Coito, Helena G omes Silva, Jorge Cunha, Maria M anuela Ribeiro Costa, Margarida Rocheta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Wild plants of Vitis closely related to the cultivated grapevine (V. v. vinifera) are believed to have been first domesticated 10,000 years BC around the Caspian Sea. V. v. vinifera is hermaphrodite whereas V. v. sylvestris is a dioecious species. Male flowers show a reduced pistil without style or stigma and female flowers present reflexed stamens with infertile pollen. V. vinifera produce perfect flowers with all functional structures. The mechanism for flower sex determination and specification in grapevine is still unknown.

RESULTS: To understand which genes are involved during the establishment of male, female and complete flowers, we analysed and compared the transcription profiles of four developmental stages of the three genders. We showed that sex determination is a late event during flower development and that the expression of genes from the ABCDE model is not directly correlated with the establishment of sexual dimorphism. We propose a temporal comprehensive model in which two mutations in two linked genes could be players in sex determination and indirectly establish the Vitis domestication process. Additionally, we also found clusters of genes differentially expressed between genders and between developmental stages that suggest a role involved in sex differentiation. Also, the detection of differentially transcribed regions that extended existing gene models (intergenic regions) between sexes suggests that they may account for some of the variation between the subspecies.

CONCLUSIONS: There is no evidence of differences of expression levels in genes from the ABCDE model that could explain the shift from hermaphroditism to dioecy. We propose that sex specification occurs after floral organ identity has been established and therefore, sex determination genes might be having an effect downstream of the ABCDE model genes.For the first time a full transcriptomic analysis was performed in different flower developmental stages in the same individual. Our experimental approach enabled us to create a comprehensive catalogue of transcribed genes across developmental stages and genders that will contribute for future work in sex determination in seed plants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1095
Number of pages1
JournalBMC Genomics
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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