A SHATTERPROOF-like gene controls ripening in non-climacteric strawberries, and auxin and abscisic acid antagonistically affect its expression

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Strawberries (Fragaria×ananassa) are false fruits the ripening of which follows the non-climacteric pathway. The role played by a C-type MADS-box gene [SHATTERPROOF-like (FaSHP)] in the ripening of strawberries has been studied by transiently modifying gene expression through either over-expression or RNA-interference-mediated down-regulation. The altered expression of the FaSHP gene caused a change in the time taken by the over-expressing and the down- regulated fruits to attain the pink stage, which was slightly shorter and much longer, respectively, compared to controls. In parallel with the modified ripening times, the metabolome components and the expression of ripening-related genes also appeared different in the transiently modified fruits. Differences in the response time of the analysed genes suggest that FaSHP can control the expression of ripening genes either directly or indirectly through other transcription factor-encoding genes. Because fleshy strawberries are false fruits these results indicate that C-type MADS-box genes like SHATTERPROOF may act as modulators of ripening in fleshy fruit-like structures independently of their anatomical origin. Treatment of strawberries with either auxin or abscisic acid had antagonistic impacts on both the expression of FaSHP and the expression of ripening-related genes and metabolome components.

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