Solanaceae have played an important role in elucidating how flower color is specified by the flavonoid biosynthesis pathway (FBP), which produces anthocyanins and other secondary metabolites. With well-established reverse genetics tools and rich genomic resources, Solanaceae provide a robust framework to examine the diversification of this well-studied pathway over short evolutionary timescales and to evaluate the predictability of genetic perturbation on pathway flux. Genomes of eight Solanaceae species, nine related asterids, and four rosids were mined to evaluate variation in copy number of the suite of FBP enzymes involved in anthocyanin biosynthesis. Comparison of annotation sources indicated that the NCBI annotation pipeline generated more and longer FBP annotations on average than genome-specific annotation pipelines. The pattern of diversification of each enzyme among asterids was assessed by phylogenetic analysis, showing that the CHS superfamily encompasses a large paralogous family of ancient and recent duplicates, whereas other FBP enzymes have diversified via recent duplications in particular lineages. Heterologous expression of a pansy F3′5′H gene in tobacco changed flower color from pink to dark purple, demonstrating that anthocyanin production can be predictably modified using reverse genetics. These results suggest that the Solanaceae FBP could be an ideal system to model genotype-to-phenotype interactions for secondary metabolism.
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