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De novo transcriptome analysis of petal senescence in Gardenia jasminoides Ellis

Georgios F Tsanakas12, Maria E Manioudaki1, Athanasios S Economou2 and Panagiotis Kalaitzis13*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Horticultural Genetics & Biotechnology, Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania (MAICh), Crete, Greece

2 School of Agriculture, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece

3 Postal address: Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania (MAICh), Alsyllio Agrokepio, 1 Makedonias str, PO Box 85, Chania 73100, Crete, Greece

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BMC Genomics 2014, 15:554  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-554

Published: 4 July 2014



The petal senescence of ethylene insensitive species has not been investigated thoroughly while little is known about the temporal and tissue specific expression patterns of transcription factors (TFs) in this developmental process. Even less is known on flower senescence of the ornamental pot plant Gardenia jasminoides, a non climacteric flower with significant commercial value.


We initiated a de novo transcriptome study to investigate the petal senescence in four developmental stages of cut gardenia flowers considering that the visible symptoms of senescence appear within 4 days of flower opening. De novo assembly of transcriptome sequencing resulted in 102,263 contigs with mean length of 360 nucleotides that generated 57,503 unigenes. These were further clustered into 20,970 clusters and 36,533 singletons. The comparison of the consecutive developmental stages resulted in 180 common, differentially expressed unigenes. A large number of Simple Sequence Repeats were also identified comprising a large number of dinucleotides and trinucleotides. The prevailing families of differentially expressed TFs comprise the AP2/EREBP, WRKY and the bHLH. There are 81 differentially expressed TFs when the symptoms of flower senescence become visible with the most prevailing being the WRKY family with 19 unigenes. No other WRKY TFs had been identified up to now in petal senescence of ethylene insensitive species. A large number of differentially expressed genes were identified at the initiation of visible symptoms of senescence compared to the open flower stage indicating a significant shift in the expression profiles which might be coordinated by up-regulated and/or down-regulated TFs. The expression of 16 genes that belong to the TF families of WRKY, bHLH and the ethylene sensing pathway was validated using qRT – PCR.


This de novo transcriptome analysis resulted in the identification of TFs with specific temporal expression patterns such as two WRKYs and one bHLH, which might play the role of senescence progression regulators. Further research is required to investigate their role in gardenia flowers in order to develop tools to delay petal senescence.

Gardenia; Transcriptome; SSR markers; Transcription factors; Petal senescence