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Flavonoid genes of pear (Pyrus communis)

Abstract

Pear (Pyrus sp.) is a major fruit crop of temperate regions with increasing extent of cultivation. Pear flavonoids contribute to its fruit color, pathogen defense, and are health beneficial ingredients of the fruits. Comparative Southern analyses with apple (Malus x domestica) cDNAs showed comparable genomic organization of flavonoid genes of both related genera. A homology-based cloning approach was used to obtain the cDNAs of most enzymes of the main flavonoid pathway of Pyrus: phenylalanine ammonia lyase, chalcone synthase, chalcone isomerase, flavanone 3β-hydroxylase, flavonol synthase, dihydroflavonol 4-reductase, leucoanthocyanidin reductase 1 and 2, anthocyanidin synthase, anthocyanidin reductase, and UDP-glucose : flavonoid 7-O-glucosyltransferase. The substrate specificities of the recombinant enzymes expressed in yeast were determined for physiological and non-physiological substrates and found to be in general agreement with the characteristic pear flavonoid metabolite pattern of mainly B-ring dihydroxylated anthocyanins, flavonols, catechins, and flavanones. Furthermore, significant differences in substrate specificities and gene copy numbers in comparison to Malus were identified. Cloning of the cDNAs and studying the enzymes of the Pyrus flavonoid pathway is an essential task toward a comprehensive knowledge of Pyrus polyphenol metabolism. It also elucidates evolutionary patterns of flavonoid/polyphenol pathways in the Rosaceae, which allocate several important crop plants.

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Acknowledgments

The financial support provided by the EU-Commission (QLK5-CT-1999-01583), the Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Umwelt, Gesundheit und Verbraucherschutz (76c-8793-2003/10), the Austrian Federal Ministry for Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water, and the Austrian Federal States (Project 1296) is gratefully acknowledged. Barbara Meisel (TUM, Freising, now Pretoria) is thanked for help in cloning work and Chikako Honda (National Institute for Fruit Tree Science, Japan) for providing the untranslated 5′ sequence of Malus CHS by personal communication. Dieter Treutter (Fruit Science, TUM, Freising, Germany) and Silke Peterek (IPK, Gatersleben, Germany) are acknowledged for discussion and help with literature on pear polyphenols.

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Correspondence to Thilo C. Fischer.

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Fischer, T.C., Gosch, C., Pfeiffer, J. et al. Flavonoid genes of pear (Pyrus communis). Trees 21, 521–529 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00468-007-0145-z

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Keywords

  • Flavonoids
  • Pear (Pyrus communis)
  • Polyphenols
  • Rosaceae