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Carotenoid composition and carotenogenic gene expression during Ipomoea petal development

Journal of Experimental Botany
Oxford University Press
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1093/jxb/erp335
  • Research Papers
  • Biology


Japanese morning glory (Ipomoea nil) is a representative plant lacking a yellow-flowered cultivar, although a few wild Ipomoea species contain carotenoids in their petals such as Ipomoea sp. (yellow petals) and I. obscura (pale-yellow petals). In the present study, carotenoid composition and the expression patterns of carotenogenic genes during petal development were compared among I. nil, I. obscura, and Ipomoea sp. to identify the factors regulating carotenoid accumulation in Ipomoea plant petals. In the early stage, the carotenoid composition in petals of all the Ipomoea plants tested was the same as in the leaves mainly showing lutein, violaxanthin, and β-carotene (chloroplast-type carotenoids). However, in fully opened flowers, chloroplast-type carotenoids were entirely absent in I. nil, whereas they were present in trace amounts in the free form in I. obscura. At the late stage of petal development in Ipomoea sp., the majority of carotenoids were β-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, and β-carotene (chromoplast-type carotenoids). In addition, most of them were present in the esterified form. Carotenogenic gene expression was notably lower in I. nil than in Ipomoea sp. In particular, β-ring hydroxylase (CHYB) was considerably suppressed in petals of both I. nil and I. obscura. The CHYB expression was found to be significantly high in the petals of Ipomoea sp. during the synthesis of chromoplast-type carotenoids. The expression levels of carotenoid cleavage genes (CCD1 and CCD4) were not correlated with the amount of carotenoids in petals. These results suggest that both I. obscura and I. nil lack the ability to synthesize chromoplast-type carotenoids because of the transcriptional down-regulation of carotenogenic genes. CHYB, an enzyme that catalyses the addition of a hydroxyl residue required for esterification, was found to be a key enzyme for the accumulation of chromoplast-type carotenoids in petals.

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