Regulation of carotenoid and chlorophyll pools in hesperidia, anatomically unique fruits found only in Citrus
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AuthorZhu, Kaijie; Zheng, Xiongjie; Ye, Junli; Huang, Yue; Chen, Hongyan; Mei, Xuehan; Xie, Zhongzhou; Cao, Lixin; Zeng, Yunliu; Larkin, Robert M.; Xu, Qiang; Pérez-Román, Estela; Talón, Manuel; Zumajo-Cardona, Cecilia; Wurtzel, Eleanore T.; Deng, Xiuxin
Cita bibliográficaZhu, K., Zheng, X., Ye, J., Huang, Y., Chen, H., Mei, X. et al. (2021). Regulation of carotenoid and chlorophyll pools in hesperidia, anatomically unique fruits found only in Citrus. Plant Physiology, 187(2), 829-845.
Domesticated citrus varieties are woody perennials and interspecific hybrid crops of global economic and nutritional importance. The citrus fruit “hesperidium” is a unique morphological innovation not found in any other plant lineage. Efforts to improve the nutritional quality of the fruit are predicated on understanding the underlying regulatory mechanisms responsible for fruit development, including temporal control of chlorophyll degradation and carotenoid biosynthesis. Here, we investigated the molecular basis of the navel orange (Citrus sinensis) brown flavedo mutation, which conditions flavedo that is brown instead of orange. To overcome the limitations of using traditional genetic approaches in citrus and other woody perennials, we developed a strategy to elucidate the underlying genetic lesion. We used a multi-omics approach to collect data from several genetic sources and plant chimeras to successfully decipher this mutation. The multi-omics strategy applied here will be valuable in driving future gene discovery efforts in citrus as well as in other woody perennial plants. The comparison of transcriptomic and genomic data from multiple genotypes and plant sectors revealed an underlying lesion in the gene encoding STAY-GREEN (SGR) protein, which simultaneously regulates carotenoid biosynthesis and chlorophyll degradation. However, unlike SGR of other plant species, we found that the carotenoid and chlorophyll regulatory activities could be uncoupled in the case of certain SGR alleles in citrus and thus we propose a model for the molecular mechanism underlying the brown flavedo phenotype. The economic and nutritional value of citrus makes these findings of wide interest. The strategy implemented, and the results obtained, constitute an advance for agro-industry by driving opportunities for citrus crop improvement.