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Cytokinin-induced parthenocarpy of San Pedro type fig (Ficus carica L.) main crop: explained by phytohormone assay and transcriptomic network comparison

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CPPU-induced San Pedro type fig main crop parthenocarpy exhibited constantly increasing IAA content and more significantly enriched KEGG pathways in the receptacle than in female flowers.


N-(2-chloro-4-pyridyl)-N-phenylurea (CPPU) was applied to San Pedro fig (Ficus carica L.) main crop to induce parthenocarpy; the optimal effect was obtained with 25 mg L−1 application to syconia when female flowers were at anthesis. To elucidate the key expression changes in parthenocarpy conversion, significant changes in phytohormone level and transcriptome of fig female flowers and receptacles were monitored. HPLC–MS revealed increased IAA content in female flowers and receptacle 2, 4 and 10 days after treatment (DAT), decreased zeatin level in the receptacle 2, 4 and 10 DAT, decreased GA3 content 2 and 4 DAT, and increased GA3 content 10 DAT. ABA level increased 2 and 4 DAT, and decreased 10 DAT. CPPU-treated syconia released more ethylene than the control except 2 DAT. RNA-Seq and bioinformatics analysis revealed notably more differentially expressed KEGG pathways in the receptacle than in female flowers. In the phytohormone gene network, GA-biosynthesis genes GA20ox and GA3ox were upregulated, along with GA signal-transduction genes GID1 and GID2, and IAA-signaling genes AUX/IAA and GH3. ABA-biosynthesis gene NCED and signaling genes PP2C and ABF were downregulated 10 DAT. One ACO gene showed consistent upregulation in both female flowers and receptacle after CPPU treatment, and more than a dozen of ERFs demonstrated opposing changes in expression. Our results revealed early-stage spatiotemporal phytohormone and transcriptomic responses in CPPU-induced San Pedro fig main crop parthenocarpy, which could be valuable for further understanding the nature of the parthenocarpy of different fig types.

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This work was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China project NSFC [31372007].

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Authors and Affiliations



HM and PC designed the experiments. PC and LC conducted the experiments and analyzed the results. SD carried out the CPPU treatment again and performed the ethylene assay in 2018. PC, SD, LC, HM, SC and MF prepared the manuscript. All authors have read and approved the manuscript for publication.

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Correspondence to Huiqin Ma.

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Supplementary material 1 Supplementary Table 1. Primer sequences of genes used for validation of RNA-Seq results by quantitative real-time PCR. Supplementary Table 2. Differential expression of genes related to plant hormone synthesis and signal transduction (|log2FC| > 1) in six pairwise comparison groups. Supplementary Table 3. Significantly enriched KEGG pathways in female flowers vs. receptacle during the San Pedro fig main crop fruit set-determination phase. Supplementary Fig. 1 Correlation of fold changes in gene expression between RNA-Seq and qRT-PCR. Equation for linear regression and correlation coefficient (R2) are shown. DAT, day after treatment. Supplementary Fig. 2 Comparison of the major phytohormone levels between female flowers and receptacle and the effect of CPPU treatment (DOCX 615 KB)

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Chai, P., Dong, S., Chai, L. et al. Cytokinin-induced parthenocarpy of San Pedro type fig (Ficus carica L.) main crop: explained by phytohormone assay and transcriptomic network comparison. Plant Mol Biol 99, 329–346 (2019).

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