To satisfy consumer demands for year-round apple supply, postharvest storage techniques are employed to preserve apple fruit quality during long term storage. Their long-term storage is focused on controlling the immediate atmosphere around the fruit as well as, decreasing the metabolism and ripening process by limiting oxygen levels. In some cases, the low oxygen storage conditions cause the fruit to stress and develop physiological disorders, for instance internal browning. This study investigates the cause of this phenomenon on a molecular level and attempts to elucidates the mechanism through which the apple fruit senses and responds to the low oxygen levels. With the help of bioinformatics it was possible to identify members of the Group VII Ethylene Response Factors (ERFVII’s) known to regulate plant hypoxic responses. In total, 29 genes containing the functional, DNA-binding domain, APETELA2 (AP2) was identified. Phylogenetic analysis showed grouping of the AtERFVII genes with five of the 29 apple genes. The N-terminal, crucial for protein regulation and breakdown via the N-end rule, was also positively identified through motif discovery. Expression profiling with RNA-sequencing confirmed the differential expression of the specific genes under low oxygen conditions. The five respective genes were then isolated from the Malus x domestica cv Jonagold and a sequence comparison with the existing Malus x domestica cv Golden Delicious to investigate possible differences in hypoxia stress adaptations between commercial apple cultivars.
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