30 April 2014
Through a combination of metabolite analysis with transcriptome sequencing, a new hypothesis was proposed to explain the lack of colour phenotype of the white variant of the blue grape hyacinth.
Grape hyacinth ( Muscari) is an important ornamental bulbous plant with an extraordinary blue colour. Muscari armeniacum, whose flowers can be naturally white, provides an opportunity to unravel the complex metabolic networks underlying certain biochemical traits, especially colour. A blue flower cDNA library of M. armeniacum and a white flower library of M. armeniacum f. album were used for transcriptome sequencing. A total of 89 926 uni-transcripts were isolated, 143 of which could be identified as putative homologues of colour-related genes in other species. Based on a comprehensive analysis relating colour compounds to gene expression profiles, the mechanism of colour biosynthesis was studied in M. armeniacum. Furthermore, a new hypothesis explaining the lack of colour phenotype of the grape hyacinth flower is proposed. Alteration of the substrate competition between flavonol synthase (FLS) and dihydroflavonol 4-reductase (DFR) may lead to elimination of blue pigmentation while the multishunt from the limited flux in the cyanidin (Cy) synthesis pathway seems to be the most likely reason for the colour change in the white flowers of M. armeniacum. Moreover, mass sequence data obtained by the deep sequencing of M. armeniacum and its white variant provided a platform for future function and molecular biological research on M. armeniacum.