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Identification of QTLs affecting scopolin and scopoletin biosynthesis in Arabidopsis thaliana

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Abstract

Background: Scopoletin and its glucoside scopolin are important secondary metabolites synthesized in plants as a defense mechanism against various environmental stresses. They belong to coumarins, a class of phytochemicals with significant biological activities that is widely used in medical application and cosmetics industry. Although numerous studies showed that a variety of coumarins occurs naturally in several plant species, the details of coumarins biosynthesis and its regulation is not well understood. It was shown previously that coumarins (predominantly scopolin and scopoletin) occur in Arabidopsis thaliana (Arabidopsis) roots, but until now nothing is known about natural variation of their accumulation in this model plant. Therefore, the genetic architecture of coumarins biosynthesis in Arabidopsis has not been studied before. Results: Here, the variation in scopolin and scopoletin content was assessed by comparing seven Arabidopsis accessions. Subsequently, a quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping was performed with an Advanced Intercross Recombinant Inbred Lines (AI-RILs) mapping population EstC (Est-1 × Col). In order to reveal the genetic basis of both scopolin and scopoletin biosynthesis, two sets of methanol extracts were made from Arabidopsis roots and one set was additionally subjected to enzymatic hydrolysis prior to quantification done by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). We identified one QTL for scopolin and five QTLs for scopoletin accumulation. The identified QTLs explained 13.86% and 37.60% of the observed phenotypic variation in scopolin and scopoletin content, respectively. In silico analysis of genes located in the associated QTL intervals identified a number of possible candidate genes involved in coumarins biosynthesis. Conclusions: Together, our results demonstrate for the first time that Arabidopsis is an excellent model for studying the genetic and molecular basis of natural variation in coumarins biosynthesis in plants. It additionally provides a basis for fine mapping and cloning of the genes involved in scopolin and scopoletin biosynthesis. Importantly, we have identified new loci for this biosynthetic process.

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Siwinska, J., Kadzinski, L., Banasiuk, R., Gwizdek-Wisniewska, A., Olry, A., Banecki, B., … Ihnatowicz, A. (2014). Identification of QTLs affecting scopolin and scopoletin biosynthesis in Arabidopsis thaliana. BMC Plant Biology, 14(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12870-014-0280-9

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