Image_1_Flooding Responses on Grapevine: A Physiological, Transcriptional, and Metabolic Perspective.pdf

Studies on model plants have shown that temporary soil flooding exposes roots to a significant hypoxic stress resulting in metabolic re-programming, accumulation of toxic metabolites and hormonal imbalance. To date, physiological and transcriptional responses to flooding in grapevine are poorly characterized. To fill this gap, we aimed to gain insights into the transcriptional and metabolic changes induced by flooding on grapevine roots (K5BB rootstocks), on which cv Sauvignon blanc (Vitis vinifera L.) plants were grafted. A preliminary experiment under hydroponic conditions enabled the identification of transiently and steadily regulated hypoxia-responsive marker genes and drafting a model for response to oxygen deprivation in grapevine roots. Afterward, over two consecutive vegetative seasons, flooding was imposed to potted vines during the late dormancy period, to mimick the most frequent waterlogging events occurring in the field. Untargeted transcriptomic and metabolic profiling approaches were applied to investigate early responses of grapevine roots during exposure to hypoxia and subsequent recovery after stress removal. The initial hypoxic response was marked by a significant increase of the hypoxia-inducible metabolites ethanol, GABA, succinic acid and alanine which remained high also 1 week after recovery from flooding with the exception of ethanol that leveled off. Transcriptomic data supported the metabolic changes by indicating a substantial rearrangement of primary metabolic pathways through enhancement of the glycolytic and fermentative enzymes and of a subset of enzymes involved in the TCA cycle. GO and KEGG pathway analyses of differentially expressed genes showed a general down-regulation of brassinosteroid, auxin and gibberellin biosynthesis in waterlogged plants, suggesting a general inhibition of root growth and lateral expansion. During recovery, transcriptional activation of gibberellin biosynthetic genes and down-regulation of the metabolic ones may support a role for gibberellins in signaling grapevine rootstocks waterlogging metabolic and hormonal changes to the above ground plant. The significant internode elongation measured upon budbreak during recovery in plants that had experienced flooding supported this hypothesis. Overall integration of these data enabled us to draft a first comprehensive view of the molecular and metabolic pathways involved in grapevine’s root responses highlighting a deep metabolic and transcriptomic reprogramming during and after exposure to waterlogging.