, Volume 226, Issue 5, pp 1243–1254 | Cite as

Maize Lc transcription factor enhances biosynthesis of anthocyanins, distinct proanthocyanidins and phenylpropanoids in apple (Malus domestica Borkh.)

  • Houhua Li
  • Henryk Flachowsky
  • Thilo C. Fischer
  • Magda-Viola Hanke
  • Gert Forkmann
  • Dieter Treutter
  • Wilfried Schwab
  • Thomas Hoffmann
  • Iris SzankowskiEmail author
Original Article


Flavonoids are a large family of polyphenolic compounds with manifold functions in plants. Present in a wide range of vegetables and fruits, flavonoids form an integral part of the human diet and confer multiple health benefits. Here, we report on metabolic engineering of the flavonoid biosynthetic pathways in apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) by overexpression of the maize (Zea mays L.) leaf colour (Lc) regulatory gene. The Lc gene was transferred into the M. domestica cultivar Holsteiner Cox via Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated transformation which resulted in enhanced anthocyanin accumulation in regenerated shoots. Five independent Lc lines were investigated for integration of Lc into the plant genome by Southern blot and PCR analyses. The Lc-transgenic lines contained one or two Lc gene copies and showed increased mRNA levels for phenylalanine ammonia-lyase (PAL), chalcone synthase (CHS), flavanone 3 beta-hydroxylase (FHT), dihydroflavonol 4-reductase (DFR), leucoanthocyanidin reductases (LAR), anthocyanidin synthase (ANS) and anthocyanidin reductase (ANR). HPLC-DAD and LC-MS analyses revealed higher levels of the anthocyanin idaein (12-fold), the flavan 3-ol epicatechin (14-fold), and especially the isomeric catechin (41-fold), and some distinct dimeric proanthocyanidins (7 to 134-fold) in leaf tissues of Lc-transgenic lines. The levels of phenylpropanoids and their derivatives were only slightly increased. Thus, Lc overexpression in Malus domestica resulted in enhanced biosynthesis of specific flavonoid classes, which play important roles in both phytopathology and human health.


Agrobacterium Flavonoids Metabolic Engineering Transformation 



Anthocyanidin synthase


Anthocyanidin reductase




Cauliflower mosaic virus


Chalcone isomerase


Chalcone synthase


Diode array detection


Dihydroflavonol 4-reductase


UDP-Glucose:flavonoid 3-O-glucosyltransferase


Flavanon 3 beta-hydroxylase


Flavonol synthase


Gibberellic acid


High performance liquid chromatography


Holsteiner Cox


Indole-3-butyric acid


Leucoanthocyanidin reductase


Maize leaf colour


Liquid chromatography/mass spectroscopy


Murashige and Skoog


Phenylalanin ammonia-lyase




Yeast extract broth



We thank Ryan Peeler and Sue Wessler (Plant Biology Department, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA) for providing the Lc-gene. This work was partially supported by the Ministry of Science and Culture (MWK) of the state Lower Saxony and the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF, project number 0312638C), Germany.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Houhua Li
    • 1
  • Henryk Flachowsky
    • 2
  • Thilo C. Fischer
    • 3
  • Magda-Viola Hanke
    • 2
  • Gert Forkmann
    • 3
  • Dieter Treutter
    • 4
  • Wilfried Schwab
    • 5
  • Thomas Hoffmann
    • 5
  • Iris Szankowski
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Institute of Biological Production Systems, Fruit Science SectionLeibniz University of HannoverHannoverGermany
  2. 2.Federal Centre for Breeding Research on Cultivated Plants, Institute of Fruit BreedingDresdenGermany
  3. 3.Chair for Ornamental Plants and Horticultural Plant Breeding, Department for Plant SciencesTechnical University MunichFreisingGermany
  4. 4.Unit of Fruit Science, Department for Plant SciencesTechnical University of MunichFreisingGermany
  5. 5.Biomolecular Food TechnologyTechnical University of MunichFreisingGermany

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