, Volume 218, Issue 5, pp 721–728 | Cite as

Activation of flavonoid biosynthesis by solar radiation in bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) leaves

  • Laura Jaakola
  • Kaisu Määttä-Riihinen
  • Sirpa Kärenlampi
  • Anja Hohtola
Original Article


The effect of solar radiation on flavonoid biosynthesis was studied in bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) leaves. Expression of flavonoid pathway genes of bilberry was studied in the upper leaves of bilberry, exposed to direct sunlight, in the shaded leaves growing lower in the same plants and in fruits. Bilberry-specific digoxigenin–dUTP-labeled cDNA fragments of five genes from the general phenylpropanoid pathway coding phenylalanine ammonia-lyase and from the flavonoid pathway coding chalcone synthase, flavanone 3-hydroxylase, dihydroflavonol 4-reductase, and anthocyanidin synthase were used as probes in gene expression analysis. Anthocyanins, catechins, proanthocyanidins, flavonols and hydroxycinnamic acids from the leaves and fruits were identified and quantified using high-performance liquid chromatography combined with a diode array detector. An increase in the expression of the studied flavonoid pathway genes was observed in leaves growing under direct sun exposure. Also, the concentrations of anthocyanins, catechins, flavonols and hydroxycinnamic acids were higher in the leaves exposed to direct sunlight. However, the concentration of polymeric procyanidins was lower in sun-exposed leaves, whereas that of prodelphinidins was slightly increased. The results give further support for the protective role of flavonoids and hydroxy cinnamic acids against high solar radiation in plants. Also, the roles of different flavonoid compounds as a defense against stress caused by sun exposure is discussed.


Anthocyanin Flavonol Gene expression Hydroxycinnamic acid Proanthocyanidin Vaccinium 



Anthocyanidin synthase


Chalcone synthase


Dihydroflavonol 4-reductase


Flavanone 3-hydroxylase


Glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase


Phenylalanine ammonia-lyase



This work was supported by the Northern Environmental Research Network, University of Oulu, Finland. The research was carried out as a part of the Co-operation Program of the University of Oulu and Kuusamo Town, Finland, and was financed by the EU (ESF), Regional Council of Northern Ostrobothnia and Kuusamo Town. We thank Mrs. Eeva-Liisa Palkispää for technical assistance in the analysis of flavonoids and hydroxycinnamic acids.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura Jaakola
    • 1
  • Kaisu Määttä-Riihinen
    • 2
  • Sirpa Kärenlampi
    • 2
  • Anja Hohtola
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biology/BotanyUniversity of OuluOuluFinland
  2. 2.Institute of Applied BiotechnologyUniversity of KuopioKuopioFinland

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