Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

A deep survey of alternative splicing in grape reveals changes in the splicing machinery related to tissue, stress condition and genotype

Nicola Vitulo1, Claudio Forcato1, Elisa Corteggiani Carpinelli1, Andrea Telatin1, Davide Campagna4, Michela D'Angelo1, Rosanna Zimbello1, Massimiliano Corso2, Alessandro Vannozzi2, Claudio Bonghi2, Margherita Lucchin23 and Giorgio Valle14*

Author Affiliations

1 CRIBI Biotechnology Centre, University of Padua, Padua, Italy

2 Department of Agronomy, Food, Natural resources, Animals and Environment, DAFNAE, University of Padua, Padua, Italy

3 CIRVE, Centre for Research in Viticulture and Enology, University of Padua, Padua, Italy

4 Department of Biology, University of Padua, Padua, Italy

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Plant Biology 2014, 14:99  doi:10.1186/1471-2229-14-99

Published: 17 April 2014



Alternative splicing (AS) significantly enhances transcriptome complexity. It is differentially regulated in a wide variety of cell types and plays a role in several cellular processes. Here we describe a detailed survey of alternative splicing in grape based on 124 SOLiD RNAseq analyses from different tissues, stress conditions and genotypes.


We used the RNAseq data to update the existing grape gene prediction with 2,258 new coding genes and 3,336 putative long non-coding RNAs. Several gene structures have been improved and alternative splicing was described for about 30% of the genes. A link between AS and miRNAs was shown in 139 genes where we found that AS affects the miRNA target site. A quantitative analysis of the isoforms indicated that most of the spliced genes have one major isoform and tend to simultaneously co-express a low number of isoforms, typically two, with intron retention being the most frequent alternative splicing event.


As described in Arabidopsis, also grape displays a marked AS tissue-specificity, while stress conditions produce splicing changes to a minor extent. Surprisingly, some distinctive splicing features were also observed between genotypes. This was further supported by the observation that the panel of Serine/Arginine-rich splicing factors show a few, but very marked differences between genotypes. The finding that a part the splicing machinery can change in closely related organisms can lead to some interesting hypotheses for evolutionary adaptation, that could be particularly relevant in the response to sudden and strong selective pressures.

Alternative splicing; Transcriptome; RNAseq; Grapevine