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Genomic Variance and Transcriptional Comparisons Reveal the Mechanisms of Leaf Color Affecting Palatability and Stressed Defense in Tea Plant

by Xuewen Wang 1,2,*,†, Ben-ying Liu 3,4,†, Qingshi Zhao 1,†, Xuemei Sun 3,4,†, Youyong Li 3,4, Zhifen Duan 3,4, Xinli Miao 5, Shan Luo 6 and Jianbin Li 1,*
College of tropic crops, Yunnan agricultural University, Puer 665000, China
Department of genetics, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA
Yunnan Key Laboratory of Tea Science, Menghai 666201, China
Tea Research Institute, Yunnan Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Menghai 666201, China
School of mathematics and statistics, Chuxiong Normal University, Chuxiong 675000, China
College of agriculture and biotechnology, Yunnan Agricultural University, Kunming 650201, China
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Genes 2019, 10(11), 929;
Received: 4 October 2019 / Revised: 28 October 2019 / Accepted: 11 November 2019 / Published: 14 November 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in Orphan Crop Genetics and Genomics)
Leaves are one of the most important organs of plants, and yet, the association between leaf color and consumable traits remains largely unclear. Tea leaves are an ideal study system with which to investigate the mechanism of how leaf coloration affects palatability, since tea is made from the leaves of the crop Camellia sinensis. Our genomic resequencing analysis of a tea cultivar ZiJuan (ZJ) with purple leaves and altered flavor revealed genetic variants when compared with the green-leaf, wild type cultivar YunKang(YK). RNA-Seq based transcriptomic comparisons of the bud and two youngest leaves in ZJ and YK identified 93%, 9% and 5% expressed genes that were shared in YK- and ZJ-specific cultivars, respectively. A comparison of both transcript abundance and particular metabolites revealed that the high expression of gene UFGT for anthocyanin biosynthesis is responsible for purple coloration, which competes with the intermediates for catechin-like flavanol biosynthesis. Genes with differential expression are enriched in response to stress, heat and defense, and are casually correlated with the environmental stress of ZJ plant origin in the Himalayas. In addition, the highly expressed C4H and LDOX genes for synthesizing flavanol precursors, ZJ-specific CLH1 for degrading chlorophyll, alternatively spliced C4H and FDR and low photosynthesis also contributed to the altered color and flavor of ZJ. Thus, our study provides a better molecular understanding of the effect of purple coloration on leaf flavor, and helps to guide future engineering improvement of palatability. View Full-Text
Keywords: tea; leaf color; gene expression; anthocyanin; transcriptome; resequencing tea; leaf color; gene expression; anthocyanin; transcriptome; resequencing
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Wang, X.; Liu, B.-Y.; Zhao, Q.; Sun, X.; Li, Y.; Duan, Z.; Miao, X.; Luo, S.; Li, J. Genomic Variance and Transcriptional Comparisons Reveal the Mechanisms of Leaf Color Affecting Palatability and Stressed Defense in Tea Plant. Genes 2019, 10, 929.

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