Differential gene expression during floral transition in pineapple

Robert E. Paull, Najla Ksouri, Michael Kantar, Dessireé Zerpa-Catanho, Nancy Jung Chen, Gail Uruu, Jingjing Yue, Shiyong Guo, Yun Zheng, Ching Man Jennifer Wai, Ray Ming

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pineapple (Ananas comosus var. comosus) and ornamental bromeliads are commercially induced to flower by treatment with ethylene or its analogs. The apex is transformed from a vegetative to a floral meristem and shows morphological changes in 8 to 10 days, with flowers developing 8 to 10 weeks later. During eight sampling stages ranging from 6 h to 8 days after treatment, 7961 genes were found to exhibit differential expression (DE) after the application of ethylene. In the first 3 days after treatment, there was little change in ethylene synthesis or in the early stages of the ethylene response. Subsequently, three ethylene response transcription factors (ERTF) were up-regulated and the potential gene targets were predicted to be the positive flowering regulator CONSTANS-like 3 (CO), a WUSCHEL gene, two APETALA1/FRUITFULL (AP1/FUL) genes, an epidermal patterning gene, and a jasmonic acid synthesis gene. We confirm that pineapple has lost the flowering repressor FLOWERING LOCUS C. At the initial stages, the SUPPRESSOR OF OVEREXPRESSION OF CONSTANS 1 (SOC1) was not significantly involved in this transition. Another WUSCHEL gene and a PHD homeobox transcription factor, though not apparent direct targets of ERTF, were up-regulated within a day of treatment, their predicted targets being the up-regulated CO, auxin response factors, SQUAMOSA, and histone H3 genes with suppression of abscisic acid response genes. The FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT), TERMINAL FLOWER (TFL), AGAMOUS-like APETELAR (AP2), and SEPETALA (SEP) increased rapidly within 2 to 3 days after ethylene treatment. Two FT genes were up-regulated at the apex and not at the leaf bases after treatment, suggesting that transport did not occur. These results indicated that the ethylene response in pineapple and possibly most bromeliads act directly to promote the vegetative to flower transition via APETALA1/FRUITFULL (AP1/FUL) and its interaction with SPL, FT, TFL, SEP, and AP2. A model based on AP2/ERTF DE and predicted DE target genes was developed to give focus to future research. The identified candidate genes are potential targets for genetic manipulation to determine their molecular role in flower transition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere541
JournalPlant Direct
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2023


  • Flowering Locus T
  • Trans-Cis motifs
  • ethylene response transcription factors
  • floral transition
  • flower regulators

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • Plant Science
  • Ecology


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