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Article|15 Mar 2023|OPEN
A molecular phenology scale of grape berry development
Giovanni Battista Tornielli1 , ,† , Marco Sandri1,2 ,† , Marianna Fasoli1 , Alessandra Amato1 , Mario Pezzotti1 and Paola Zuccolotto2 , Sara Zenoni,1
1Department of Biotechnology, University of Verona, Strada Le Grazie 15, 37134 Verona, Italy
2Big & Open Data Innovation Laboratory, University of Brescia, C.da S. Chiara 50, 25122 Brescia, Italy
*Corresponding author. E-mail:
Both authors contributed equally to the study.

Horticulture Research 10,
Article number: uhad048 (2023)
Views: 160

Received: 27 Dec 2022
Accepted: 07 Mar 2023
Published online: 15 Mar 2023


Fruit growth and development consist of a continuous succession of physical, biochemical, and physiological changes driven by a genetic program that dynamically responds to environmental cues. Establishing recognizable stages over the whole fruit lifetime represents a fundamental requirement for research and fruit crop cultivation. This is especially relevant in perennial crops like grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.) to scale the development of its fruit across genotypes and growing conditions. In this work, molecular-based information from several grape berry transcriptomic datasets was exploited to build a molecular phenology scale (MPhS) and to map the ontogenic development of the fruit. The proposed statistical pipeline consisted of an unsupervised learning procedure yielding an innovative combination of semiparametric, smoothing, and dimensionality reduction tools. The transcriptomic distance between fruit samples was precisely quantified by means of the MPhS that also enabled to highlight the complex dynamics of the transcriptional program over berry development through the calculation of the rate of variation of MPhS stages by time. The MPhS allowed the alignment of time-series fruit samples proving to be a complementary method for mapping the progression of grape berry development with higher detail compared to classic time- or phenotype-based approaches.