Transcriptomic and metabolomics responses to elevated cell wall invertase activity during tomato fruit set

Lei Ru, Sonia Osorio, Lu Wang, Alisdair R. Fernie, John W. Patrick, Yong Ling Ruan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Fruit set is a developmental transition from ovaries to fruitlets that determines yield potential. Cell wall invertase (CWIN) is essential for fruit and seed set, but the underlying molecular basis remains elusive. We addressed this issue by using CWIN-elevated transgenic tomato, focusing on ovaries and fruitlets at 2 d before and after anthesis, respectively. RNAseq analyses revealed that ovaries and fruitlets exhibited remarkable differences in their transcriptomic responses to elevated CWIN activity. Ovaries 2 d before anthesis were far more responsive to elevated CWIN activity compared with the fruitlets. We identified several previously unknown pathways that were up-regulated by elevated CWIN activity during fruit set. The most notable of these were expression of genes for defence, ethylene synthesis and the cell cycle along with a large number of cell wall-related genes. By contrast, expression of photosynthetic, protein degradation and some receptor-like kinase genes were generally decreased as compared with the wild type ovaries. GC-MS analyses revealed that 22 out of 24 amino acids exhibited reduced levels in the RNAi ovaries as compared with that in the wild type, probably owing to a down-regulated expression of protein degradation genes. Overall, the data indicate that (i) ovaries are much more sensitive to metabolic intervention than fruitlets; (ii) high CWIN activity could promote fruit set by improving resistance against pathogens and altering cell cycle and cell wall synthesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4263-4279
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes


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