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Organic acids, such as citrate and malate, are important contributors for the sensory traits of fleshy fruits. Although their biosynthesis has been illustrated, regulatory mechanisms of acid accumulation remain to be dissected. To provide transcriptional architecture and identify candidate genes for citrate accumulation in fruits, we have selected for transcriptome analysis four varieties of sweet orange (Citrus sinensis L. Osbeck) with varying fruit acidity, Succari (acidless), Bingtang (low acid), and Newhall and Xinhui (normal acid). Fruits of these varieties at 45 days post anthesis (DPA), which corresponds to Stage I (cell division), had similar acidity, but they displayed differential acid accumulation at 142 DPA (Stage II, cell expansion). Transcriptomes of fruits at 45 and 142 DPA were profiled using RNA sequencing and analyzed with three different algorithms (Pearson correlation, gene coexpression network and surrogate variable analysis). Our network analysis shows that the acid-correlated genes belong to three distinct network modules. Several of these candidate fruit acidity genes encode regulatory proteins involved in transport (such as AHA10), degradation (such as APD2) and transcription (such as AIL6) and act as hubs in the citrate accumulation gene networks. Taken together, our integrated systems biology analysis has provided new insights into the fruit citrate accumulation gene network and led to the identification of candidate genes likely associated with the fruit acidity control.


This article was originally published in frontiers in Plant Science, available at doi: 10.3389/fpls.2016.00486.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY).



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