Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Solar ultraviolet radiation is necessary to enhance grapevine fruit ripening transcriptional and phenolic responses

Pablo Carbonell-Bejerano1*, Maria-Paz Diago1, Javier Martínez-Abaigar2, José M Martínez-Zapater1, Javier Tardáguila1 and Encarnación Núñez-Olivera2

Author Affiliations

1 Instituto de Ciencias de la Vid y del Vino (ICVV), Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas-Universidad de La Rioja-Gobierno de La Rioja, Madre de Dios 51, 26006 Logroño, Spain

2 Universidad de La Rioja, Edificio Científico-Tecnológico, Madre de Dios 51, 26006 Logroño, Spain

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BMC Plant Biology 2014, 14:183  doi:10.1186/1471-2229-14-183

Published: 9 July 2014



Ultraviolet (UV) radiation modulates secondary metabolism in the skin of Vitis vinifera L. berries, which affects the final composition of both grapes and wines. The expression of several phenylpropanoid biosynthesis-related genes is regulated by UV radiation in grape berries. However, the complete portion of transcriptome and ripening processes influenced by solar UV radiation in grapes remains unknown.


Whole genome arrays were used to identify the berry skin transcriptome modulated by the UV radiation received naturally in a mid-altitude Tempranillo vineyard. UV radiation-blocking and transmitting filters were used to generate the experimental conditions. The expression of 121 genes was significantly altered by solar UV radiation. Functional enrichment analysis of altered transcripts mainly pointed out that secondary metabolism-related transcripts were induced by UV radiation including VvFLS1, VvGT5 and VvGT6 flavonol biosynthetic genes and monoterpenoid biosynthetic genes. Berry skin phenolic composition was also analysed to search for correlation with gene expression changes and UV-increased flavonols accumulation was the most evident impact. Among regulatory genes, novel UV radiation-responsive transcription factors including VvMYB24 and three bHLH, together with known grapevine UV-responsive genes such as VvMYBF1, were identified. A transcriptomic meta-analysis revealed that genes up-regulated by UV radiation in the berry skin were also enriched in homologs of Arabidopsis UVR8 UV-B photoreceptor-dependent UV-B -responsive genes. Indeed, a search of the grapevine reference genomic sequence identified UV-B signalling pathway homologs and among them, VvHY5-1, VvHY5-2 and VvRUP were up-regulated by UV radiation in the berry skin.


Results suggest that the UV-B radiation-specific signalling pathway is activated in the skin of grapes grown at mid-altitudes. The biosynthesis and accumulation of secondary metabolites, which are appreciated in winemaking and potentially confer cross-tolerance, were almost specifically triggered. This draws attention to viticultural practices that increase solar UV radiation on vineyards as they may improve grape features.

Anthocyanins; Flavonols; Fruit ripening; Grapevine; Microarray; Phenolic compounds; Stilbenes; Terpenoids; Ultraviolet radiation; Vitis vinifera