Plant Molecular Biology

, Volume 73, Issue 6, pp 587–603

Terpene synthases of oregano (Origanum vulgare L.) and their roles in the pathway and regulation of terpene biosynthesis

Authors

  • Christoph Crocoll
    • Department of BiochemistryMax Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology
  • Julia Asbach
    • Department of BiochemistryMax Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology
  • Johannes Novak
    • Institute for Applied Botany and PharmacognosyUniversity of Veterinary Medicine
  • Jonathan Gershenzon
    • Department of BiochemistryMax Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology
    • Institute of PharmacyMartin Luther University Halle
Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11103-010-9636-1

Cite this article as:
Crocoll, C., Asbach, J., Novak, J. et al. Plant Mol Biol (2010) 73: 587. doi:10.1007/s11103-010-9636-1

Abstract

The aroma, flavor and pharmaceutical value of cultivated oregano (Origanum vulgare L.) is a consequence of its essential oil which consists mostly of monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes. To investigate the biosynthetic pathway to oregano terpenes and its regulation, we identified and characterized seven terpene synthases, key enzymes of terpene biosynthesis, from two cultivars of O. vulgare. Heterologous expression of these enzymes showed that each forms multiple mono- or sesquiterpene products and together they are responsible for the direct production of almost all terpenes found in O. vulgare essential oil. The correlation of essential oil composition with relative and absolute terpene synthase transcript concentrations in different lines of O. vulgare demonstrated that monoterpene synthase activity is predominantly regulated on the level of transcription and that the phenolic monoterpene alcohol thymol is derived from γ-terpinene, a product of a single monoterpene synthase. The combination of heterologously-expressed terpene synthases for in vitro assays resulted in blends of mono- and sesquiterpene products that strongly resemble those found in vivo, indicating that terpene synthase expression levels directly control the composition of the essential oil. These results will facilitate metabolic engineering and directed breeding of O. vulgare cultivars with higher quantity of essential oil and improved oil composition.

Keywords

Origanum vulgare L.Terpene synthaseγ-TerpineneThymolEssential oilTranscript regulation

Abbreviations

FID

Flame ionization detector

FPP

Farnesyl diphosphate

GC

Gas chromatography

GPP

Geranyl diphosphate

MS

Mass spectrometry

TPS

Terpene synthase

qRT-PCR

Quantitative realtime polymerase chain reaction

Supplementary material

11103_2010_9636_MOESM1_ESM.doc (2.2 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 2231 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010