Molecular Biology Reports

, Volume 39, Issue 12, pp 11263–11275 | Cite as

Flower color diversity revealed by differential expression of flavonoid biosynthetic genes and flavonoid accumulation in herbaceous peony (Paeonia lactiflora Pall.)

  • Daqiu Zhao
  • Jun Tao
  • Chenxia Han
  • Jintao Ge


Herbaceous peony (Paeonia lactiflora Pall.) is an important ornamental plant which contains different flower colors. In this paper, eight genes encoding phenylalanine ammonialyase (PAL), chalcone synthase (CHS), chalcone isomerase (CHI), flavanone 3-hydroxylase (F3H), flavonoid 3′-hydroxylase (F3′H), dihydroflavonol 4-reductase (DFR), anthocyanidin synthase (ANS), UDP-glucose: flavonoid 3-o-glucosyltransferase (UF3GT) were isolated. Moreover, the expression patterns of these eight genes and UF5GT in the flowers were investigated in three cultivars, that is, ‘Hongyanzhenghui’, ‘Yulouhongxing’ and ‘Huangjinlun’ with purplish-red, white and yellow flower respectively. Furthermore, flavonoid accumulation in the flowers was also analyzed. The results showed that in different organs, most of genes expressed higher in flowers than in other organs. During the development of flowers, all genes could be divided into four groups. The first group (PlPAL) was highly expressed in S1 and S4. The second group (PlCHS and PlCHI) was at a high expression level throughout the whole developmental stages. The third group (PlF3H, PlF3′H, PlDFR, PlANS and PlUF5GT) gradually decreased with the development of flowers. The fourth group (PlUF3GT) gradually increased during the flower development. In addition, anthoxanthins and anthocyanins were detected in ‘Hongyanzhenghui’ and ‘Yulouhongxing’, chalcones and anthoxanthins were found in ‘Huangjinlun’. When different color flowers were concerned, low expression level of PlCHI induced most of the substrate accumulation in the form of chalcones and displaying yellow, changing a small part of substrates to anthoxanthins, and there was no anthocyanin synthesis in ‘Huangjinlun’ because of low expression level of DFR. In ‘Yulouhongxing’, massive expressions of upstream genes and low expression of DFR caused synthesis of a great deal of anthoxanthins and a small amount of colorless anthocyanins. In ‘Hongyanzhenghui’, a large number of colored anthocyanins were changed from anthoxanthins because of PlDFR, PlANS and PlUF3GT high expressions. These results would provide us a theoretical basis to understand the formation of P. lactiflora flower colors.


Paeonia lactiflora Flower color Flavonoids Cloning Gene expression 



We thank professor Liang-Sheng Wang for technical assistance. This study was financially supported by Agricultural Science & Technology Independent Innovation Fund of Jiangsu Province (CX[11]1017, CX[12]4052), Agricultural Science & Technology Support Project of Jiangsu Province (BE2011325), and A Project Funded by the Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions.


  1. 1.
    Eason J, Pinkney T, Heyes J, Brash D, Bycroft B (2002) Effect of storage temperature and harvest bud maturity on bud opening and vase life of Paeonia lactiflora cultivars. New Zealand J Crop Hortic Sci 30:61–67CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Waltona EF, Boldinghb HL, McLarenc GF, Williamsa MH, Jackman R (2010) The dynamics of starch and sugar utilisation in cut peony (Paeonia lactiflora Pall.) stems during storage and vase life. Postharvest Biol Technol 58:142–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Yu X, Zhao R, Yao M, Cheng F (2006) Breeding and horticulture utilization of ornamental herbaceous peony at abroad. Sci Pap Online China 10:1–11 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Wang JG, Zhang ZS (2005) In: Wang JG, Zhang ZS (eds) Herbaceous peonies of China. China Forestry Publishing House, Beijing, p 3 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Grotewold JME, Koes R (1998) How genes paint flowers and seeds. Trends Plant Sci 3:212–217CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Qi AT (1989) In: Fu YL (ed) Physiology and biochemistry of flower color. China Forestry Publishing House, Beijing, pp 9–51 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Harborne JB (1994) In: Harborne JB (ed) The flavonoids: advances in research since 1986. Chapman and Hall, London, pp 441–497Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Jia N, Shu QY, Wang LS, Du H, Xu YJ et al (2008) Analysis of petal anthocyanins to investigate coloration mechanism in herbaceous peony cultivars. Sci Hortic 117:167–173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Jia N, Shu QY, Wang DH, Wang LS, Liu ZA et al (2008) Identification and characterization of anthocyanins by high-performance liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization-mass spectrometry in herbaceous peony species. J Am Soc Hortic Sci 133(3):418–426Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Nakatsuka T, Nishihara M, Mishiba K, Yamamura S (2005) Temporal expression of flavonoid biosynthesis-related genes regulates flower pigmentation in gentian plants. Plant Sci 168:1309–1318CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Wei YZ, Hu FC, Hu GB, Li XJ, Huang XM et al (2011) Differential expression of anthocyanin biosynthetic genes in relation to anthocyanin accumulation in the pericarp of Litchi Chinensis Sonn. PLoS ONE 6(4):e19455PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Holton TA, Cornish EC (1995) Genetics and biochemistry of anthocyanins biosynthesis. Plant Cell 7:1071–1083PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Nakatsuka A, Mizuta D, Kii Y, Miyajima I, Kobayashi N (2008) Isolation and expression analysis of flavonoid biosynthesis genes in evergreen azalea. Sci Hortic 118:314–320CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Park NI, Xu H, Li X, Jang IH, Park S et al (2011) Anthocyanin accumulation and expression of anthocyanin biosynthetic genes in radish (Raphanus sativus). J Agric Food Chem 59:6034–6039PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Li X, Park NI, Xu H, Woo SH, Park CH et al (2010) Differential expression of flavonoid biosynthesis genes and accumulation of phenolic compounds in common buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum). J Agric Food Chem 58:12176–12181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Park NI, Li X, Suzuki T, Kim SJ, Woo SH et al (2011) Differential expression of anthocyanin biosynthetic genes and anthocyanin accumulation in tartary buckwheat cultivars ‘Hokkai T8’ and ‘Hokkai T10’. J Agric Food Chem 59:2356–2361PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Ahmed N, Maekawa M, Noda K (2009) Anthocyanin accumulation and expression pattern of anthocyanin biosynthesis genes in developing wheat coleoptiles. Biol Plant 53(2):223–228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Chen SM, Zhu XR, Chen FD, Luo HL, Lv GS et al (2010) Expression profiles of anthocyanin biosynthetic genes in chrysanthemum cultivars with different flower colors. Acta Botanica Boreali-Occidentalia Sinica 30(3):0453–0458 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Zhang JL, Pan DR, Zhou YF, Wang ZC, Hua SM et al (2009) Cloning and expression of genes involved in anthocyanins synthesis in ornamental sunflower. Acta Hortic Sinica 36(1):73–80 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    McGuire RG (1992) Reporting of objective colour measurements. HortScience 27:1254–1255Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Voss DH (1992) Relating colourimeter measurement of plant colour to the Royal Horticultural Society colour chart. HortScience 27:1256–1260Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    He Q, Shen Y, Wang M, Huang M, Yang R et al (2011) Natural variation in petal color in Lycoris longituba revealed by anthocyanin components. PLoS ONE 6(8):e22098PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Zhao D, Zhou C, Kong F, Tao J (2011) Cloning of phytoene desaturase and expression analysis of carotenogenic genes in persimmon (Diospyros kaki L.) fruits. Mol Biol Rep 38:3935–3943PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Schmittgen TD, Livak KJ (2008) Analyzing real-time PCR data by the comparative CT method. Nat Protoc 36(6):1101–1108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Zhao DQ, Zhou CH, Tao J (2011) Carotenoid accumulation and carotenogenic genes expression during two types of persimmon fruit (Diospyros kaki L.) development. Plant Mol Biol Rep 29:646–654CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Crisosto CH, Garner D, Crisosto GM, Sibbett S, Day KR (1994) Late harvest and delayed cooling induce internal browning of ‘Ya Li’ and ‘Seuri’ Chinese pears. HortScience 29:667–670Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Intelmann D, Jaros D, Rohm H (2005) Identification of color optima of commercial tomato catsup. Eur Food Res Technol 22:662–666CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Zhang H, Wang L, Meng Y, Li Y, Wang H et al (2011) The molecular mechanism of pigmentation in plant flower. Mol Plant Breeding 9:1818–1823 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Nishihara M, Nakatsuka T (2011) Genetic engineering of flavonoid pigments to modify flower color in floricultural plants. Biotechnol Lett 33:433–441PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Nakatsuka T, Mishiba K, Kubota A, Abe Y, Yamamura S et al (2010) Genetic engineering of novel flower colour by suppression of anthocyanin modification genes in gentian. J Plant Physiol 167:231–237PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Niu SS, Xu CJ, Zhang WS, Zhang B, Li X et al (2010) Coordinated regulation of anthocyanin biosynthesis in Chinese bayberry (Myrica rubra) fruit by a R2R3 MYB transcription factor. Planta 231:887–899PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Kim SH, Lee JR, Hong ST, Yoo YK, An G et al (2003) Molecular cloning and analysis of anthocyanin biosynthesis genes preferentially expressed in apple skin. Plant Sci 165:403–413CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Raes J, Rohde A, Christensen JH, van de Peer Y, Boerjan W (2003) Genome-wide characterization of the lignification toolbox in Arabidopsis. Plant Physiol 133:1051–1071PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Kim BG, Kim JH, Min SY, Shin KH, Kim JH et al (2007) Anthocyanin content in rice is related to expression levels of anthocyanin biosynthetic genes. J Plant Biol 50(2):156–160CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Martin C, Gerats T (1993) Control of pigment biosynthesis genes during petal development. Plant Cell 15:1253–1264Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Zhou L, Wang Y, Peng Z (2011) Molecular characterization and expression analysis of chalcone synthase gene during flower development in tree peony (Paeonia suffruticosa). Afr J Biotechnol 10(8):1275–1284Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Hu K, Meng L, Han KT, Sun Y, Dai SL (2009) Isolation and expression analysis of key genes involved in anthocyan in biosynthesis of cineraria. Acta Hortic Sinica 36(7):1013–1022 (in Chinese)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Jiangsu Key Laboratory of Crop Genetics and Physiology, College of Horticulture and Plant ProtectionYangzhou UniversityYangzhouPeople’s Republic of China

Personalised recommendations