Comparative transcriptome analysis reveals distinct ethylene-independent regulation of ripening in response to low temperature in kiwifruit

William O. Asiche, Oscar W. Mitalo, Yuka Kasahara, Yasuaki Tosa, Eric G. Mworia, Willis O. Owino, Koichiro Ushijima, Ryohei Nakano, Kentaro Yano, Yasutaka Kubo

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43 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Kiwifruit are classified as climacteric since exogenous ethylene (or its analogue propylene) induces rapid ripening accompanied by ethylene production under positive feedback regulation. However, most of the ripening-associated changes (Phase 1 ripening) in kiwifruit during storage and on-vine occur largely in the absence of any detectable ethylene. This ripening behavior is often attributed to basal levels of system I ethylene, although it is suggested to be modulated by low temperature. Results: To elucidate the mechanisms regulating Phase 1 ripening in kiwifruit, a comparative transcriptome analysis using fruit continuously exposed to propylene (at 20 °C), and during storage at 5 °C and 20 °C was conducted. Propylene exposure induced kiwifruit softening, reduction of titratable acidity (TA), increase in soluble solids content (SSC) and ethylene production within 5 days. During storage, softening and reduction of TA occurred faster in fruit at 5 °C compared to 20 °C although no endogenous ethylene production was detected. Transcriptome analysis revealed 3761 ripening-related differentially expressed genes (DEGs), of which 2742 were up-regulated by propylene while 1058 were up-regulated by low temperature. Propylene exclusively up-regulated 2112 DEGs including those associated with ethylene biosynthesis and ripening such as AcACS1, AcACO2, AcPL1, AcXET1, Acβ-GAL, AcAAT, AcERF6 and AcNAC7. Similarly, low temperature exclusively up-regulated 467 DEGS including AcACO3, AcPL2, AcPMEi, AcADH, Acβ-AMY2, AcGA2ox2, AcNAC5 and AcbZIP2 among others. A considerable number of DEGs such as AcPG, AcEXP1, AcXET2, Acβ-AMY1, AcGA2ox1, AcNAC6, AcMADS1 and AcbZIP1 were up-regulated by either propylene or low temperature. Frequent 1-MCP treatments failed to inhibit the accelerated ripening and up-regulation of associated DEGs by low temperature indicating that the changes were independent of ethylene. On-vine kiwifruit ripening proceeded in the absence of any detectable endogenous ethylene production, and coincided with increased expression of low temperature-responsive DEGs as well as the decrease in environmental temperature. Conclusions: These results indicate that kiwifruit possess both ethylene-dependent and low temperature-modulated ripening mechanisms that are distinct and independent of each other. The current work provides a foundation for elaborating the control of these two ripening mechanisms in kiwifruit.

Original languageEnglish
Article number47
JournalBMC Plant Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 21 2018


  • Ethylene
  • Fruit ripening
  • Low temperature-modulated ripening
  • On-vine ripening
  • Transcription factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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