Journal Article

Identification of putative candidate genes involved in cuticle formation in <i>Prunus avium</i> (sweet cherry) fruit

Merianne Alkio, Uwe Jonas, Thorben Sprink, Steven van Nocker and Moritz Knoche

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 110, issue 1, pages 101-112
Published in print July 2012 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online May 2012 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI:
Identification of putative candidate genes involved in cuticle formation in Prunus avium (sweet cherry) fruit

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry


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Background and Aims

The cuticular membrane (CM) of Prunus avium (sweet cherry) and other fleshy fruit is under stress. Previous research indicates that the resultant strain promotes microscopic cuticular cracking. Microcracks impair the function of the CM as a barrier against pathogens and uncontrolled water loss/uptake. Stress and strain result from a cessation of CM deposition during early development, while the fruit surface continues to expand. The cessation of CM deposition, in turn, may be related to an early downregulation of CM-related genes. The aims of this study were to identify genes potentially involved in CM formation in sweet cherry fruit and to quantify their expression levels.


Fruit growth and CM deposition were quantified weekly from anthesis to maturity and rates of CM deposition were calculated. Sequences of genes expressed in the sweet cherry fruit skin (exocarp) were generated using high-throughput sequencing of cDNA and de novo assembly and analysed using bioinformatics tools. Relative mRNA levels of selected genes were quantified in the exocarp and fruit flesh (mesocarp) weekly using reverse transcriptase-quantitative real-time PCR and compared with the calculated CM deposition rate over time.

Key Results

The rate of CM deposition peaked at 93 (±5) μg per fruit d−1 about 19 d after anthesis. Based on sequence analyses, 18 genes were selected as potentially involved in CM formation. Selected sweet cherry genes shared up to 100 and 98 % similarity with the respective Prunus persica (peach) and Arabidopsis thaliana genes. Expression of 13 putative CM-related genes was restricted to the exocarp and correlated positively with the CM deposition rate.


The results support the view that the cessation of CM deposition during early sweet cherry fruit development is accounted for by a downregulation of genes involved in CM deposition. Genes that merit further investigation include PaWINA, PaWINB, PaLipase, PaLTPG1, PaATT1, PaLCR, PaGPAT4/8, PaLACS2, PaLACS1 and PaCER1.

Keywords: Cuticle; cuticular membrane; cutin; de novo assembly; epidermis; microcracks; Prunus avium; reverse transcriptase-quantitative real-time PCR; RNA-Seq; Solexa/Illumina sequencing; sweet cherry; wax

Journal Article.  7990 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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