Redirection of flavonoid biosynthesis through the down-regulation of an anthocyanidin glucosyltransferase in ripening strawberry fruit

Markus Griesser, Thomas Hoffmann, Mari Luz Bellido, Carlo Rosati, Barbara Fink, Robert Kurtzer, Asaph Aharoni, Juan Muñoz-Blanco, Wilfried Schwab

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163 Scopus citations


Strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa) fruit contains several anthocyanins that give the ripe fruits their attractive red color. The enzyme that catalyzes the formation of the first stable intermediate in the anthocyanin pathway is anthocyanidin-3-O-glucosyltransferase. A putative glycosyltransferase sequence (FaGT1) was cloned from a strawberry fruit cDNA library and the recombinant FaGT1 transferred UDP-glucose to anthocyanidins and, to a lesser extent, flavonols, generating the respective 3-O-glucosides. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction revealed that transcripts of FaGT1 were almost undetectable in green fruits, but gene expression increased dramatically in both turning and ripe red fruit, corresponding closely to the accumulation of anthocyanins during fruit ripening. The expression of FaGT1 is fruit associated and negatively regulated by auxin. To elucidate the in planta function of FaGT1, Agrobacterium tumefaciens cells harboring an intron-hairpin construct of a partial FaGT1 sequence were injected into midsized ripening fruits. In about one-third of the injected fruits, this led to significant down-regulation of FaGT1 transcript levels that corresponded to reduced concentrations of anthocyanin pigments in ripe strawberry fruits. In contrast, significant levels of epiafzelechin - formed by anthocyanidin reductase (ANR) from pelargonidin - were identified in FaGT1-silenced fruits, indicating competition of FaGT1 and FaANR for the common anthocyanidin substrate. Thus, FaGT1 represents an important branching-point enzyme because it is channeling the flavonoid pathway to anthocyanins. These results demonstrate a method to redirect the anthocyanin biosynthesis into flavan-3-ol production to increase the levels of bioactive natural products or modify pigments in plant tissues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1528-1539
Number of pages12
JournalPlant Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2008


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