Transcriptome analysis in tissue sectors with contrasting crocins accumulation provides novel insights into apocarotenoid biosynthesis and regulation during chromoplast biogenesis

Oussama Ahrazem, Javier Argandoña, Alessia Fiore, Carolina Aguado, Rafæl Luján, Ángela Rubio-Moraga, Mónica Marro, Cuauhtémoc Araujo-Andrade, Pablo Loza-Alvarez, Gianfranco Diretto, Lourdes Gómez-Gómez

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Crocins, the red soluble apocarotenoids of saffron, accumulate in the flowers of Crocus species in a developmental and tissue-specific manner. In Crocus sieberi, crocins accumulate in stigmas but also in a distinct yellow tepal sector, which we demonstrate contains chromoplast converted from amyloplasts. Secondary metabolites were analysed by LC-DAD-HRMS, revealing the progressive accumulation of crocetin and crocins in the yellow sector, which were also localized in situ by Raman microspectroscopy. To understand the underlying mechanisms of crocin biosynthesis, we sequenced the C. sieberi tepal transcriptome of two differentially pigmented sectors (yellow and white) at two developmental stages (6 and 8) by Illumina sequencing. A total of 154 million high-quality reads were generated and assembled into 248,099 transcripts. Differentially expressed gene analysis resulted in the identification of several potential candidate genes involved in crocin metabolism and regulation. The results provide a first profile of the molecular events related to the dynamics of crocetin and crocin accumulation during tepal development, and present new information concerning apocarotenoid biosynthesis regulators and their accumulation in Crocus. Further, reveals genes that were previously unknown to affect crocin formation, which could be used to improve crocin accumulation in Crocus plants and the commercial quality of saffron spice.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2843
Pages (from-to)-
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

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