Watermelon lycopene β-cyclase: promoter characterization leads to the development of a PCR marker for allelic selection
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- Bang, H., Yi, G., Kim, S. et al. Euphytica (2014) 200: 363. doi:10.1007/s10681-014-1158-5
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In the carotenoid biosynthetic pathway, lycopene β-cyclase (LCYB) catalyzes the cyclization that converts lycopene into β-carotene. Only a single copy of LCYB was identified and was suggested to encode a chromoplast-specific LCYB (CYCB type) in watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.), Matsum & Nakai]. Splicing variants in the 5′-untranslated region were identified, but alternative splicing did not provide an explanation of the regulation of carotenoid accumulation in watermelon flesh. A quantitative assay using real time-PCR showed that differential expression was not detected between red- and canary yellow-fleshed watermelon cultivars. LCYB promoter regions were isolated and characterized, and a sequence difference was identified in the promoter region between red and canary yellow LCYB alleles. This polymorphism did not change the expression of LCYB, but does provide a reliable marker for discriminating LCYB alleles for red and canary yellow flesh. To develop a PCR-based marker to distinguish between the two LCYB alleles, we designed primers flanking the polymorphic region. The newly developed marker, designated Clcyb.600, co-segregated perfectly with flesh color phenotypes and single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers developed in our previous study. Moreover, the Clcyb.600 marker offers easier discrimination of LCYB alleles than SNP or cleaved amplified polymorphic sequence markers, as it does not require restriction enzyme digestion for genotyping. Genotyping of LCYB promoter alleles in various commercial cultivars and plant introductions indicated that watermelon cultivars can be classified into two groups, those carrying a red LCYB allele or a canary yellow LCYB allele.