Fleshy fruits using ethylene to regulate ripening have developed multiple times in the history of angiosperms, presenting a clear case of convergent evolution whose molecular basis remains largely unknown. Analysis of the fruitENCODE data consisting of 361 transcriptome, 71 accessible chromatin, 147 histone and 45 DNA methylation profiles reveals three types of transcriptional feedback circuits controlling ethylene-dependent fruit ripening. These circuits are evolved from senescence or floral organ identity pathways in the ancestral angiosperms either by neofunctionalisation or repurposing pre-existing genes. The epigenome, H3K27me3 in particular, has played a conserved role in restricting ripening genes and their orthologues in dry and ethylene-independent fleshy fruits. Our findings suggest that evolution of ripening is constrained by limited hormone molecules and genetic and epigenetic materials, and whole-genome duplications have provided opportunities for plants to successfully circumvent these limitations.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Plant Science