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Monoterpenes confer typical floral notes to "Muscat" grapevine varieties and, to a lesser extent, to other aromatic non-Muscat varieties. Previous studies have led to the identification and functional characterization of some enzymes and genes in this pathway. However, the underlying genetic map is still far from being complete. For example, the specific steps of monoterpene metabolism and its regulation are largely unknown. With the aim of identifying new candidates for the missing links, we applied an integrative functional genomics approach based on the targeted metabolic and genome-wide transcript profiling of Moscato Bianco ripening berries. In particular, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis of free and bound terpenoid compounds was combined with microarray analysis in the skins of berries collected at five developmental stages from pre-veraison to over-ripening. Differentially expressed metabolites and probes were identified in the pairwise comparison between time points by using the early stage as a reference. Metabolic and transcriptomic data were integrated through pairwise correlation and clustering approaches to discover genes linked with particular metabolites or groups of metabolites. These candidate transcripts were further checked for co-localization with quantitative trait loci (QTLs) affecting aromatic compounds. Our findings provide insights into the biological networks of grapevine secondary metabolism, both at the catalytic and regulatory levels. Examples include a nudix hydrolase as component of a terpene synthase-independent pathway for monoterpene biosynthesis, genes potentially involved in monoterpene metabolism (cytochrome P450 hydroxylases, epoxide hydrolases, glucosyltransferases), transport (vesicle-associated proteins, ABCG transporters, glutathione S-transferases, amino acid permeases), and transcriptional control (transcription factors of the ERF, MYB and NAC families, intermediates in light- and circadian cycle-mediated regulation with supporting evidence from the literature and additional regulatory genes with a previously unreported association to monoterpene accumulation).

Original publication




Journal article


Frontiers in plant science

Publication Date





Grapevine Genetics and Breeding Unit, Genomics and Biology of Fruit Crop Department, Research and Innovation Centre, Fondazione Edmund MachSan Michele all'Adige, Italy.