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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

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

Authors' information

Li, Xiang
Northeast Forestry University - China
Li, Yan
Northeast Forestry University - China
Zhao, Minghui
Northeast Forestry University - China
Hu, Yanbo
Northeast Forestry University - China
Meng, Fanjuan
Northeast Forestry University - China
Song, Xingshun
Northeast Forestry University - China
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Southern Swedish Forest Research Centre
Chiang, Vincent L.
University of North Carolina
Chiang, Vincent L.
Northeast Forestry University - China
Sederoff, Ronald
North Carolina State University (NC State)
Ma, Wenjun
State Key Laboratory of Tree Genetics and Breeding, CAF
Zhao, Xiyang
Northeast Forestry University - China

UKÄ Subject classification

Bioinformatics and Systems Biology
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

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