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Open AccessCommunication

Methyl Salicylate Enhances Flavonoid Biosynthesis in Tea Leaves by Stimulating the Phenylpropanoid Pathway

1
Key Laboratory of Tea Quality and Safety Control, Ministry of Agriculture, Tea Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, 9 Meiling Road, Hangzhou 310008, China
2
College of Forestry, Henan University of Science and Technology, Luoyang 471023, China
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Academic Editor: Marian Brestic
Molecules 2019, 24(2), 362; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules24020362
Received: 15 November 2018 / Revised: 11 January 2019 / Accepted: 18 January 2019 / Published: 21 January 2019
The phytohormone salicylic acid (SA) is a secondary metabolite that regulates plant growth, development and responses to stress. However, the role of SA in the biosynthesis of flavonoids (a large class of secondary metabolites) in tea (Camellia sinensis L.) remains largely unknown. Here, we show that exogenous methyl salicylate (MeSA, the methyl ester of SA) increased flavonoid concentration in tea leaves in a dose-dependent manner. While a moderate concentration of MeSA (1 mM) resulted in the highest increase in flavonoid concentration, a high concentration of MeSA (5 mM) decreased flavonoid concentration in tea leaves. A time-course of flavonoid concentration following 1 mM MeSA application showed that flavonoid concentration peaked at 2 days after treatment and then gradually declined, reaching a concentration lower than that of control after 6 days. Consistent with the time course of flavonoid concentration, MeSA enhanced the activity of phenylalanine ammonia-lyase (PAL, a key enzyme for the biosynthesis of flavonoids) as early as 12 h after the treatment, which peaked after 1 day and then gradually declined upto 6 days. qRT-PCR analysis of the genes involved in flavonoid biosynthesis revealed that exogenous MeSA upregulated the expression of genes such as CsPAL, CsC4H, Cs4CL, CsCHS, CsCHI, CsF3H, CsDFR, CsANS and CsUFGT in tea leaves. These results suggest a role for MeSA in modulating the flavonoid biosynthesis in green tea leaves, which might have potential implications in manipulating the tea quality and stress tolerance in tea plants. View Full-Text
Keywords: salicylic acid; flavonoids; phenylpropanoid pathway; phenylalanine ammonia-lyase (PAL); tea quality salicylic acid; flavonoids; phenylpropanoid pathway; phenylalanine ammonia-lyase (PAL); tea quality
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MDPI and ACS Style

Li, X.; Zhang, L.-P.; Zhang, L.; Yan, P.; Ahammed, G.J.; Han, W.-Y. Methyl Salicylate Enhances Flavonoid Biosynthesis in Tea Leaves by Stimulating the Phenylpropanoid Pathway. Molecules 2019, 24, 362. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules24020362

AMA Style

Li X, Zhang L-P, Zhang L, Yan P, Ahammed GJ, Han W-Y. Methyl Salicylate Enhances Flavonoid Biosynthesis in Tea Leaves by Stimulating the Phenylpropanoid Pathway. Molecules. 2019; 24(2):362. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules24020362

Chicago/Turabian Style

Li, Xin; Zhang, Li-Ping; Zhang, Lan; Yan, Peng; Ahammed, Golam J.; Han, Wen-Yan. 2019. "Methyl Salicylate Enhances Flavonoid Biosynthesis in Tea Leaves by Stimulating the Phenylpropanoid Pathway" Molecules 24, no. 2: 362. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules24020362

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