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Novel expression patterns of carotenoid pathway-related genes in citrus leaves and maturing fruits

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Carotenoids are abundant in citrus fruits and vary among cultivars and species. In the present study, high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) were used to investigate the expression patterns of 23 carotenoid biosynthesis gene family members and their possible relation with carotenoid accumulation in fresh flavedo, juice sacs and leaves of Valencia orange during fruit maturation. Violaxanthin and lutein mainly accumulated in fruit (flavedo and juice sacs) and leaves (young and mature), respectively, accounting for nearly 79 %, 57 %, 53 % and 70 % of corresponding total carotenoids in February. Violaxanthin content quickly began to increase in flavedo in December, but the increase in juice sacs began later in January. In mature leaves, lutein content was three times that in young leaves; α-carotene and β-carotene were also much higher in mature leaves than in flavedo or juice sacs. Generally most of the carotenoid biosynthesis gene members were expressed at higher levels in flavedo than in juice sacs, and the expression of some continued to increase in flavedo during fruit maturation. All CHYB members expressed at high levels and had similar patterns in juice sacs. Interestingly, the capsanthin capsorubin synthase (CCS) members had similar expression levels and patterns in flavedo and juice sacs. Differences in gene expression between leaf and fruit tissues were noted, pointing to some tissue specificity for certain members of the gene families associated with carotenogenesis. The expression patterns of these 23 citrus carotenoid biosynthesis gene members were also compared with their expression patterns in other plants. Taken together, these first-hand expression data will be useful to define the tissue-specific roles of each gene member in accumulation of different carotenoids in citrus leaves and maturing fruits.

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This research was supported by grants from the New Varieties Development and Management Corporation (NVDMC). The authors would like to thank Mrs. M. Wendell, Dr. Jose I. Reyes, Shelley Jones, Mei Song and Dr. Faraj Hijaz (University of Florida, CREC) and Dr. Giovanna Iafelice (University of Molise) for their technical support and advice in planning the project.

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Correspondence to Frederick G. Gmitter Jr..

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Communicated by W.-W. Guo

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Wei, X., Chen, C., Yu, Q. et al. Novel expression patterns of carotenoid pathway-related genes in citrus leaves and maturing fruits. Tree Genetics & Genomes 10, 439–448 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11295-013-0688-7

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  • Valencia orange
  • Carotenoid biosynthesis pathway
  • qRT-PCR
  • HPLC
  • Fruit maturation