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Histochemical screening, metabolite profiling and expression analysis reveal Rosaceae roots as the site of flavan-3-ol biosynthesis


  • Editor
    E. Pichersky

T. C. Fischer, Plant Biochemistry and Physiology, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Großhaderner Str. 2-4, D-82152 Planegg-Martinsried, Germany.


Histochemical screening of 30 Rosaceae genera representing all classic subfamilies demonstrated flavan-3-ols (catechins) as general secondary metabolites in roots of Rosaceae. Semi-quantitative LC-MS analyses confirmed the presence of catechin, epicatechin and various dimeric flavan-3-ols (also representing higher polymeric proanthocyanidins) as prominent polyphenols in root tips of Fragaria (strawberry), Malus (apple), Rosa (rose), Pyrus (pear) and Prunus (plum). Distinct patterns of flavan-3-ol distribution at the cellular level were found in strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa) and apple (Malus × domestica) root tips. The calyptras (root caps) showed the most prominent flavan-3-ol staining for these two genera. Border cells of Fragaria and Malus, as first demonstrated here for Rosaceae, were also found to contain flavan-3-ols. Transcript analyses with cDNA demonstrated root expression of known flavonoid genes expressed in the respective fruits and leaves. Primarily, this proves in situ biosynthesis of flavan-3-ols in these roots. Knowledge of the distinct cellular distribution patterns and their in situ biosynthesis in roots provides a basis for analysis of the functional roles of Rosaceae root flavan-3-ols.

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