DNA methylation landscape variations and relations to grape fruit ripening.

Starting date
March 1, 2017
Duration (months)
Computer Science
Managers or local contacts
Dal Santo Silvia

Grapevine is the most widely-cultivated perennial fruit crop in the world. Although grape berries and their processed products are economically important in the global market, the molecular complexity of berry development and ripening process is not well understood. These molecular mechanisms directly contribute to the quality of the final products encouraging a better understanding of the physiological and molecular regulation of grape berry development. Interestingly, it has been recently demonstrated that the ripening of fleshy fruits (e.g., tomato) was inhibited by DNA methylation, suggesting an important role of the epigenome and its dynamics in contributing to fruit ripening control. This research project aims to chart the DNA methylation landscape variations during the grapevine berry ripening process and to delineate their contribution towards the definition of the difference in the berry ripening length. An holistic approach will be exploited using next-generation sequencing technologies to describe the functional complexity of transcriptomes (RNA-seq) and of smallRNA pools (smallRNA-seq), and to characterize, for the first time in a non-climateric fruit, the dynamics of the DNA methylation on a whole-genome base (WGBS). The complex data integration and networking of such a multi-faceted project will be assured by the partnership between the Department of Biotechnology and the French National Institute of Agricultural Reaserach (INRA), both with strong complementary competences in obtaining, handling and comparing transcriptomics and epigenomics data. Ultimately, the identification of genes and DNA modifications whose dynamics are correlated with the extent of the ripening process, and in particular with the improvement of berry quality, will allow to infer a controlled model of analysis that could facilitate the obtaining of a standard product of high quality thus providing new guidelines for a more profitable cultivation of grapevine.


Funds: assigned and managed by the department

Project participants

Research areas involved in the project
Genetica e genomica umana, vegetale e microbica
Applied biotechnology (non-medical), bioreactors, applied microbiology
Biologia, fisiologia e biochimica delle piante


Research facilities