Background: 'Kuerlexiangli' (Pyrus sinkiangensis Yu), a native pear of Xinjiang, China, is an important agricultural fruit and primary export to the international market. However, fruit with persistent calyxes affect fruit shape and quality. Although several studies have looked into the physiological aspects of the calyx abscission process, the underlying molecular mechanisms remain unknown. In order to better understand the molecular basis of the process of calyx abscission, materials at three critical stages of regulation, with 6000 × Flusilazole plus 300 × PBO treatment (calyx abscising treatment) and 50 mg.L-1GA3 treatment (calyx persisting treatment), were collected and cDNA fragments were sequenced using digital transcript abundance measurements to identify candidate genes.
Results: Digital transcript abundance measurements was performed using high-throughput Illumina GAII sequencing on seven samples that were collected at three important stages of the calyx abscission process with chemical agent treatments promoting calyx abscission and persistence. Altogether more than 251,123,845 high quality reads were obtained with approximately 8.0 M raw data for each library. The values of 69.85%-71.90% of clean data in the digital transcript abundance measurements could be mapped to the pear genome database. There were 12,054 differentially expressed genes having Gene Ontology (GO) terms and associating with 251 Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) defined pathways. The differentially expressed genes correlated with calyx abscission were mainly involved in photosynthesis, plant hormone signal transduction, cell wall modification, transcriptional regulation, and carbohydrate metabolism. Furthermore, candidate calyx abscission-specific genes, e.g. Inflorescence deficient in abscission gene, were identified. Quantitative real-time PCR was used to confirm the digital transcript abundance measurements results.
Conclusions: We identified candidate genes that showed highly dynamic changes in expression during the calyx abscission process. These genes are potential targets for future functional characterization and should be valuable for exploration of the mechanisms of calyx abscission, and eventually for developing methods based on small molecule application to induce calyx abscission in fruit production.