Vitis vinifera berry metabolic composition during maturation: Implications of defoliation

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Leaves are an important contributor toward berry sugar and nitrogen (N) accumulation, and leaf area therefore affects fruit composition during grapevine (Vitis vinifera) berry ripening. The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of leaf presence on key berry quality attributes in conjunction with the accumulation of primary berry metabolites. Shortly after the start of véraison (berry ripening), potted grapevines were defoliated (total defoliation and 25% of the control), and the accumulation of berry soluble solids, N and anthocyanins were compared to that of a full leaf area control. An untargeted approach was undertaken to measure the content in primary metabolites by GC/MS. Partial and full defoliation resulted in reduced berry sugar and anthocyanin accumulation, while total berry N content was unaffected. The juice yeast assimilable N (YAN), however, increased upon partial and full defoliation. Remobilized carbohydrate reserves allowed accumulation of the major berry sugars during the absence of leaf photoassimilation. Berry anthocyanin biosynthesis was strongly inhibited by defoliation, which could relate to the carbon (C) source limitation and/or increased bunch exposure. Arginine accumulation, likely resulting from reserve translocation, contributed to increased YAN upon defoliation. Furthermore, assessing the implications on various products of the shikimate pathway suggests the C flux through this pathway to be largely affected by leaf source limitation during fruit maturation. This study provides a novel investigation of impacts of leaf C and N source presence during berry maturation, on the development of key berry quality parameters as underlined by alterations in primary metabolism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-133
Number of pages14
JournalPhysiologia Plantarum
Issue number2
Early online dateMar 2018
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018


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