The R2R3-MYB TT2b and the bHLH TT8 genes are the major regulators of proanthocyanidin biosynthesis in the leaves of Lotus species.
Escaray, F. J., Passeri, V., Perea-Garcia, A., Antonelli, C. J., Damiani, F., Ruiz, O. A. and Paolocci, F.
Unidad de Biotecnologia 1, Instituto de Investigaciones Biotecnologicas - Instituto Tecnologico de Chascomus (IIB-INTECh) / Universidad Nacional de San Martin. Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Cientificas y Tecnicas (CONICET), Chascomus, Argentina.
Institute of Biosciences and BioResources (CNR-IBBR), Perugia, Italy.
Institute of Biosciences and BioResources (CNR-IBBR), Perugia, Italy. francesco.paolocci@ibbr.cn
MAIN CONCLUSION: By exploiting interspecific hybrids and their progeny, we identified key regulatory and transporter genes intimately related to proanthocyanidin biosynthesis in leaves of Lotus spp. Proanthocyanidins (PAs), known as condensed tannins, are polymeric flavonoids enriching forage legumes of key nutritional value to prevent bloating in ruminant animals. Unfortunately, major forage legumes such as alfalfa and clovers lack PAs in edible tissues. Therefore, engineering the PA trait in herbage of forage legumes is paramount to improve both ecological and economical sustainability of cattle production system. Progresses on the understanding of genetic determinants controlling PA biosynthesis and accumulation have been mainly made studying mutants of Arabidopsis, Medicago truncatula and Lotus japonicus, model species unable to synthesize PAs in the leaves. Here, we exploited interspecific hybrids between Lotus corniculatus, with high levels of PAs in the leaves, and Lotus tenuis, with no PAs in these organs, and relative F2 progeny, to identify among candidate PA regulators and transporters the genes mainly affecting this trait. We found that the levels of leaf PAs significantly correlate with the expression of MATE1, the putative transporter of glycosylated PA monomers, and, among the candidate regulatory genes, with the expression of the MYB genes TT2a, TT2b and MYB14 and the bHLH gene TT8. The expression levels of TT2b and TT8 also correlated with those of all key structural genes of the PA pathways investigated, MATE1 included. Our study unveils a different involvement of the three Lotus TT2 paralogs to the PA trait and highlights differences in the regulation of this trait in our Lotus genotypes with respect to model species. This information opens new avenues for breeding bloat safe forage legumes.
Planta 246(2): 243-261 (2017)