Linking terpene synthases to sesquiterpene metabolism in grapevine flowers

Smit, Samuel Jacobus ; Vivier, Melane Alethea ; Young, Philip Richard (2019)

CITATION: Smit, S. J., Vivier, M. A. & Young, P. R. 2019. Linking terpene synthases to sesquiterpene metabolism in grapevine flowers. Frontiers in Plant Science, 10:177, doi:10.3389/fpls.2019.00177.

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Publication of this article was funded by the Stellenbosch University Open Access Fund.


Grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.) terpene synthases (VviTPS) are responsible for the biosynthesis of terpenic volatiles. Volatile profiling of nine commercial wine cultivars showed unique cultivar-specific variation in volatile terpenes emitted from grapevine flowers. The flower chemotypes of three divergent cultivars, Muscat of Alexandria, Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz were subsequently investigated at two flower developmental stages (EL-18 and -26). The cultivars displayed unique flower sesquiterpene compositions that changed during flower organogenesis and the profiles were dominated by either (E)-β-farnesene, (E,E)-α-farnesene or (+)-valencene. In silico remapping of microarray probes to VviTPS gene models allowed for a meta-analysis of VviTPS expression patterns in the grape gene atlas to identify genes that could regulate terpene biosynthesis in flowers. Selected sesquiterpene synthase genes were isolated and functionally characterized in three cultivars. Genotypic differences that could be linked to the function of a targeted gene model resulted in the isolation of a novel and cultivar-specific single product sesquiterpene synthase from Muscat of Alexandria flowers (VvivMATPS10), synthesizing (E)-β-farnesene as its major volatile. Furthermore, we identified structural variations (SNPs, InDels and splice variations) in the characterized VviTPS genes that potentially impact enzyme function and/or volatile sesquiterpene production in a cultivar-specific manner.

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