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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Molecular and Metabolic Insights into Anthocyanin Biosynthesis for Leaf Color Change in Chokecherry (Padus virginiana)

Li, Xiang; Li, Yan; Zhao, Minghui; Hu, Yanbo; Meng, Fanjuan; Song, Xingshun; Tigabu, Mulualem; Chiang, Vincent L.; Sederoff, Ronald; Ma, Wenjun; Zhao, Xiyang


Chokecherry (Padus virginiana L.) is an important landscaping tree with high ornamental value because of its colorful purplish-red leaves (PRL). The quantifications of anthocyanins and the mechanisms of leaf color change in this species remain unknown. The potential biosynthetic and regulatory mechanisms and the accumulation patterns of anthocyanins in P. virginiana that determine three leaf colors were investigated by combined analysis of the transcriptome and the metabolome. The difference of chlorophyll, carotenoid and anthocyanin content correlated with the formation of P. virginiana leaf color. Using enrichment and correlation network analysis, we found that anthocyanin accumulation differed in different colored leaves and that the accumulation of malvidin 3-O-glucoside (violet) and pelargonidin 3-O-glucoside (orange-red) significantly correlated with the leaf color change from green to purple-red. The flavonoid biosynthesis genes (PAL, CHS and CHI) and their transcriptional regulators (MYB, HD-Zip and bHLH) exhibited specific increased expression during the purple-red periods. Two genes encoding enzymes in the anthocyanin biosynthetic pathway, UDP glucose-flavonoid 3-O-glucosyl-transferase (UFGT) and anthocyanidin 3-O-glucosyltransferase (BZ1), seem to be critical for suppressing the formation of the aforesaid anthocyanins. In PRL, the expression of the genes encoding for UGFT and BZ1 enzymes was substantially higher than in leaves of other colors and may be related with the purple-red color change. These results may facilitate genetic modification or selection for further improvement in ornamental qualities of P. virginiana.


Padus virginiana; leaf color; anthocyanin biosynthesis; transcriptomics; metabolomic

Published in

International Journal of Molecular Sciences
2021, Volume: 22, number: 19, article number: 10697
Publisher: MDPI

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Bioinformatics and Systems Biology
    Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

    Publication identifier


    Permanent link to this page (URI)