Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Genomic and transcriptomic analysis of the AP2/ERF superfamily in Vitis vinifera

Francesco Licausi1*, Federico M Giorgi2, Sara Zenoni3, Fabio Osti4, Mario Pezzotti3 and Pierdomenico Perata1

Author Affiliations

1 Plant Lab, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Piazza Martiri della Libertà 33, 56127 Pisa, Italy

2 Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology, Am Mühlenberg 1, 14476 Golm, Germany

3 Dept Sciences, Technologies & Markets for Grapevine & Wine, University of Verona, I-37029 San Floriano Di Valpolicella, VR Italy

4 IBIMET-CNR, Via P. Gobetti 101, 40129, Bologna, Italy

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BMC Genomics 2010, 11:719  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-719

Published: 20 December 2010



The AP2/ERF protein family contains transcription factors that play a crucial role in plant growth and development and in response to biotic and abiotic stress conditions in plants. Grapevine (Vitis vinifera) is the only woody crop whose genome has been fully sequenced. So far, no detailed expression profile of AP2/ERF-like genes is available for grapevine.


An exhaustive search for AP2/ERF genes was carried out on the Vitis vinifera genome and their expression profile was analyzed by Real-Time quantitative PCR (qRT-PCR) in different vegetative and reproductive tissues and under two different ripening stages.

One hundred and forty nine sequences, containing at least one ERF domain, were identified. Specific clusters within the AP2 and ERF families showed conserved expression patterns reminiscent of other species and grapevine specific trends related to berry ripening. Moreover, putative targets of group IX ERFs were identified by co-expression and protein similarity comparisons.


The grapevine genome contains an amount of AP2/ERF genes comparable to that of other dicot species analyzed so far. We observed an increase in the size of specific groups within the ERF family, probably due to recent duplication events. Expression analyses in different aerial tissues display common features previously described in other plant systems and introduce possible new roles for members of some ERF groups during fruit ripening. The presented analysis of AP2/ERF genes in grapevine provides the bases for studying the molecular regulation of berry development and the ripening process.