Transcriptomics of Differential Ripening in ‘d’Anjou’ Pear (Pyrus communis L.)

Loren Honaas, Heidi Hargarten, John Hadish, Stephen P. Ficklin, Sara Serra, Stefano Musacchi, Eric Wafula, James Mattheis, Claude W. dePamphilis, David Rudell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Estimating maturity in pome fruits is a critical task that directs virtually all postharvest supply chain decisions. This is especially important for European pear (Pyrus communis) cultivars because losses due to spoilage and senescence must be minimized while ensuring proper ripening capacity is achieved (in part by satisfying a fruit chilling requirement). Reliable methods are lacking for accurate estimation of pear fruit maturity, and because ripening is maturity dependent it makes predicting ripening capacity a challenge. In this study of the European pear cultivar ‘d’Anjou’, we sorted fruit at harvest based upon on-tree fruit position to build contrasts of maturity. Our sorting scheme showed clear contrasts of maturity between canopy positions, yet there was substantial overlap in the distribution of values for the index of absorbance difference (IAD), a non-destructive spectroscopic measurement that has been used as a proxy for pome fruit maturity. This presented an opportunity to explore a contrast of maturity that was more subtle than IAD could differentiate, and thus guided our subsequent transcriptome analysis of tissue samples taken at harvest and during storage. Using a novel approach that tests for condition-specific differences of co-expressed genes, we discovered genes with a phased character that mirrored our sorting scheme. The expression patterns of these genes are associated with fruit quality and ripening differences across the experiment. Functional profiles of these co-expressed genes are concordant with previous findings, and also offer new clues, and thus hypotheses, about genes involved in pear fruit quality, maturity, and ripening. This work may lead to new tools for enhanced postharvest management based on activity of gene co-expression modules, rather than individual genes. Further, our results indicate that modules may have utility within specific windows of time during postharvest management of ‘d’Anjou’ pear.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number609684
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
StatePublished - Jun 16 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Plant Science


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