, Volume 58, Issue 4, pp 317-326

Expression of Ripening-Related Genes in Prickly Pear (Opuntia sp.) Fruits

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To throw light on the expression of ripening-related genes in prickly pear (Opuntia sp.) fruits and on the possible role of the gaseous hormone ethylene in nonclimacteric fruit ripening, cDNA fragments that showed high homologies with 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylate (ACC) synthase and ACC oxidase cDNAs from other plants were cloned and partially characterized. Thus, the corresponding genes were accordingly named opaccs-1 and opacco-1, after Opuntia ACC synthase-1 and Opuntia ACC oxidase-1, respectively. Southern analysis suggests the presence of at least one copy of both genes, as well as other related homologous sequences in the Opuntia genome. Northern analysis of the opaccs-1 gene shows an enhanced expression in ripening fruit tissues, whereas opacco-1 expression is highly induced in ripe tissues with respect to the green fruits and mature cladodes. These results are in agreement with an active metabolic role of ethylene during nonclimacteric prickly pear fruit ripening. This is the first report on the analysis at the molecular level of ripening-related genes of the Opuntia genus.