Skip to main content
Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2019

Retracing the molecular basis and evolutionary history of the loss of benzaldehyde emission in the genus Capsella

Jantzen, Friederike; Lynch, Joseph H.; Kappel, Christian; Hoefflin, Jona; Skaliter, Oded; Wozniak, Natalia; Sicard, Adrien; Sas, Claudia; Adebesin, Funmilayo; Ravid, Jasmin; Vainstein, Alexander; Hilker, Monika; Dudareva, Natalia; Lenhard, Michael


The transition from pollinator-mediated outbreeding to selfing has occurred many times in angiosperms. This is generally accompanied by a reduction in traits attracting pollinators, including reduced emission of floral scent. In Capsella, emission of benzaldehyde as a main component of floral scent has been lost in selfing C. rubella by mutation of cinnamate-CoA ligase CNL1. However, the biochemical basis and evolutionary history of this loss remain unknown, as does the reason for the absence of benzaldehyde emission in the independently derived selfer Capsella orientalis. We used plant transformation, in vitro enzyme assays, population genetics and quantitative genetics to address these questions. CNL1 has been inactivated twice independently by point mutations in C. rubella, causing a loss of enzymatic activity. Both inactive haplotypes are found within and outside of Greece, the centre of origin of C. rubella, indicating that they arose before its geographical spread. By contrast, the loss of benzaldehyde emission in C. orientalis is not due to an inactivating mutation in CNL1. CNL1 represents a hotspot for mutations that eliminate benzaldehyde emission, potentially reflecting the limited pleiotropy and large effect of its inactivation. Nevertheless, even closely related species have followed different evolutionary routes in reducing floral scent.


benzaldehyde; Capsella; cinnamate-CoA ligase; evolution; floral scent; selfing syndrome; shepherd's purse

Published in

New Phytologist
2019, volume: 224, number: 3, pages: 1349-1360
Publisher: WILEY

Authors' information

Jantzen, Friederike
University of Potsdam
Lynch, Joseph H.
Purdue University
Kappel, Christian
University of Potsdam
Hoefflin, Jona
Free University of Berlin
Skaliter, Oded
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Wozniak, Natalia
University of Potsdam
University of Potsdam
Sicard, Adrien (Sicard, Adrien)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Plant Biology
Sas, Claudia
University of Potsdam
Adebesin, Funmilayo
Purdue University
Ravid, Jasmin
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Vainstein, Alexander
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Hilker, Monika
Free University of Berlin
Dudareva, Natalia
Purdue University
Lenhard, Michael
University of Potsdam

UKÄ Subject classification

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Evolutionary Biology

Publication Identifiers


URI (permanent link to this page)