Transcriptional expression of Stilbene synthase genes are regulated developmentally and differentially in response to powdery mildew in Norton and Cabernet Sauvignon grapevine
Stilbenic compounds are natural phytoalexins that have antimicrobial activities in plant defense against pathogens. Stilbene synthase (STS) is the key enzyme that catalyzes the biosynthesis of stilbenic compounds. Grapevine genome contains a family of preliminarily annotated 35 STS genes, the regulation of each STS gene needs to be studied to define their roles. In this study, we selected eight STS genes, STS8, STS27/31, STS16/22, STS13/17/23, and applied quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) to characterize their transcriptional expression profiles in leaf tissues upon infection by the powdery mildew fungus (PM), Erysiphe necator (Schw.) Burr. Their transcripts were also compared in young and old leaves as well as in the berry skin at five developmental stages in Vitis vinifera ‘Cabernet Sauvignon' and Vitis aestivalis ‘Norton'. The results showed that transcripts of selected STS genes increased significantly in Cabernet Sauvignon leaves at 24 and 48 h post inoculation with PM spores and remained unchanged in Norton leaves in response to the PM infection. Transcripts of STS8, STS27/31 and STS13/17/23 were more abundant in the old leaves of Norton than in Cabernet Sauvignon. STS genes showed lower expression levels in young leaves than in old leaves. Transcript levels of the eight STS genes increased drastically in the berry skin of Cabernet Sauvignon and Norton post véraison. In addition, the content of trans-resveratrol in the berry skin rapidly increased post véraison and reached the highest level at harvest. These assays demonstrated that individual STS genes are regulated differentially in response to PM infection and during development in the two grape varieties. The present study yields basic knowledge for further investigation of the regulation and function of each STS gene in grapevine and provides experimental evidences for the functional annotation of the STS gene family in the grapevine genome.