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Functional analyses of a flavonol synthase-like gene from Camellia nitidissima reveal its roles in flavonoid metabolism during floral pigmentation

Author(s): Zhou XW, Fan ZQ, Chen Y, Zhu YL, Li JY, et al.

Abstract

The flavonoids metabolic pathway plays central roles in floral coloration, in which anthocyanins and flavonols are derived from common precursors, dihydroflavonols. Flavonol synthase (FLS) catalyses dihydroflavonols into flavonols, which presents a key branch of anthocyanins biosynthesis. The yellow flower of Camellia nitidissima Chi. is a unique feature within the genus Camellia, which makes it a precious resource for breeding yellow camellia varieties. In this work, we characterized the secondary metabolites of pigments during floral development of C. nitidissima and revealed that accumulation of flavonols correlates with floral coloration. We first isolated CnFLS1 and showed that it is a FLS of C. nitidissima by gene family analysis. Second, expression analysis during floral development and different floral organs indicated that the expression level of CnFLS1 was regulated by developmental cues, which was in agreement with the accumulating pattern of flavonols. Furthermore, over-expression of CnFLS1 in Nicotiana tabacum altered floral colour into white or light yellow, and metabolic analysis showed significant increasing of flavonols and reducing of anthocyanins in transgenic plants. Our work suggested CnFLS1 plays critical roles in yellow colour pigmentation and is potentially a key point of genetic engineering toward colour modification in Camellia.

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