Grapes are a major fruit crop around the world. Heat stress can significantly reduce grape yield and quality. Changes at the molecular level in response to heat stress and subsequent recovery are poorly understood. To elucidate the effect of heat stress and subsequent recovery on expression of genes by grape leaves representing the classic heat stress response and thermotolerance mechanisms, transcript abundance of grape (Vitis vinifera L.) leaves was quantified using the Affymetrix Grape Genome oligonucleotide microarray (15,700 transcripts), followed by quantitative Real-Time PCR validation for some transcript profiles.
We found that about 8% of the total probe sets were responsive to heat stress and/or to subsequent recovery in grape leaves. The heat stress and recovery responses were characterized by different transcriptional changes. The number of heat stress-regulated genes was almost twice the number of recovery-regulated genes. The responsive genes identified in this study belong to a large number of important traits and biological pathways, including cell rescue (i.e., antioxidant enzymes), protein fate (i.e., HSPs), primary and secondary metabolism, transcription factors, signal transduction, and development. We have identified some common genes and heat shock factors (HSFs) that were modulated differentially by heat stress and recovery. Most HSP genes were upregulated by heat stress but were downregulated by the recovery. On the other hand, some specific HSP genes or HSFs were uniquely responsive to heat stress or recovery.
The effect of heat stress and recovery on grape appears to be associated with multiple processes and mechanisms including stress-related genes, transcription factors, and metabolism. Heat stress and recovery elicited common up- or downregulated genes as well as unique sets of responsive genes. Moreover, some genes were regulated in opposite directions by heat stress and recovery. The results indicated HSPs, especially small HSPs, antioxidant enzymes (i.e., ascorbate peroxidase), and galactinol synthase may be important to thermotolerance of grape. HSF30 may be a key regulator for heat stress and recovery, while HSF7 and HSF1 may only be specific to recovery. The identification of heat stress or recovery responsive genes in this study provides novel insights into the molecular basis for heat tolerance in grape leaves.