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Open Access Research article

Berry and phenology-related traits in grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.): From Quantitative Trait Loci to underlying genes

Laura Costantini1*, Juri Battilana1, Flutura Lamaj2, Girolamo Fanizza2 and Maria Stella Grando1

Author Affiliations

1 Genetics and Molecular Biology Department, IASMA Research Center, Via E. Mach 1, 38010 San Michele all'Adige (TN), Italy

2 DIBCA, University of Bari, Via Amendola 165/A, 70100 Bari, Italy

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BMC Plant Biology 2008, 8:38  doi:10.1186/1471-2229-8-38

Published: 17 April 2008

Abstract

Background

The timing of grape ripening initiation, length of maturation period, berry size and seed content are target traits in viticulture. The availability of early and late ripening varieties is desirable for staggering harvest along growing season, expanding production towards periods when the fruit gets a higher value in the market and ensuring an optimal plant adaptation to climatic and geographic conditions. Berry size determines grape productivity; seedlessness is especially demanded in the table grape market and is negatively correlated to fruit size. These traits result from complex developmental processes modified by genetic, physiological and environmental factors. In order to elucidate their genetic determinism we carried out a quantitative analysis in a 163 individuals-F1 segregating progeny obtained by crossing two table grape cultivars.

Results

Molecular linkage maps covering most of the genome (2n = 38 for Vitis vinifera) were generated for each parent. Eighteen pairs of homologous groups were integrated into a consensus map spanning over 1426 cM with 341 markers (mainly microsatellite, AFLP and EST-derived markers) and an average map distance between loci of 4.2 cM. Segregating traits were evaluated in three growing seasons by recording flowering, veraison and ripening dates and by measuring berry size, seed number and weight. QTL (Quantitative Trait Loci) analysis was carried out based on single marker and interval mapping methods. QTLs were identified for all but one of the studied traits, a number of them steadily over more than one year. Clusters of QTLs for different characters were detected, suggesting linkage or pleiotropic effects of loci, as well as regions affecting specific traits. The most interesting QTLs were investigated at the gene level through a bioinformatic analysis of the underlying Pinot noir genomic sequence.

Conclusion

Our results revealed novel insights into the genetic control of relevant grapevine features. They provide a basis for performing marker-assisted selection and testing the role of specific genes in trait variation.