Genomics tools are rapidly becoming a common place in plant science and large-scale expression analyses are increasingly used to understand the biological basis of growth and development, and in the case of fruit crops, of their quality. As a result of the activity of the Italian Consortium for Genomics in Prunus spp. (http://www.itb.cnr.it/ESTree) an oligo-microarray with 4806 genes expressed in peach fruit is now available at the hosting Institution. Considering that peach may represent a model species f or structural and functional genomics studies for fruit tree species, aim of the project is that of performing transcriptome analyses to provide insight into the molecular mechanisms regulating the ripening process and the quality traits.
A combination of experimental techniques (microarray, cDNA-AFLP) coupled with in silico analyses will be used to identify genes involved in the ripening process by comparing peach fruits with different physiological, phenological, organoleptical and post harvest traits. Eff orts will be particularly directed towards the identification and characterization of transcription factors and genes involved in processes modulating sensory quality. An important part of the program is represented by continuing sequence annotation according to rules defined by the Gene Ontology Consortium.
Experimental data will be organized according to the MIAME protocol to optimise data exchange and consultation by the scientific community. The peach micro-array will be used as a comparative tool to start transcriptional profiles analyses of three (peach, cherry and plum) related but phenotypically (and physiologically) distinct Prunus species. By analysing gene expression profiling during the last developmental stages, including ripening, among these species, common and divergent processes regulating stone fruit development will be elucidated, contributing to the understanding of the evolution mechanisms in Prunus species.
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