Metabolic Flux Redirection and Transcriptomic Reprogramming in the Albino Tea Cultivar ‘Yu-Jin-Xiang’ with an Emphasis on Catechin Production
Guo-Feng Liu, Zhuo-Xiao Han, Lin Feng, Li-Ping Gao, Ming-Jun Gao, Margaret Y. Gruber, Zhao-Liang Zhang, Tao Xia, Xiao-Chun Wan & Shu Wei
Scientific Reports | 7:45062 | DOI: 10.1038/srep45062
In this study, shade-induced conversion from a young pale/yellow leaf phenotype to a green leaf phenotype was studied using metabolic and transcriptomic profiling and the albino cultivar ‘Yu-Jin-Xiang’ (‘YJX’) of Camellia sinensis for a better understanding of mechanisms underlying the phenotype shift and the altered catechin and theanine production. Shaded leaf greening resulted from an increase in leaf chlorophyll and carotenoid abundance and chloroplast development. A total of 1,196 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were identified between the ‘YJX’ pale and shaded green leaves, and these DEGs affected ‘chloroplast organization’ and ‘response to high light’ besides many other biological processes and pathways. Metabolic flux redirection and transcriptomic reprogramming were found in flavonoid and carotenoid pathways of the ‘YJX’ pale leaves and shaded green leaves to different extents compared to the green cultivar ‘Shu-Cha-Zao’. Enhanced production of the antioxidant quercetin rather than catechin biosynthesis was correlated positively with the enhanced transcription of FLAVONOL SYNTHASE and FLAVANONE/FLAVONOL HYDROXYLASES leading to quercetin accumulation and negatively correlated to suppressed LEUCOANTHOCYANIDIN REDUCTASE, ANTHOCYANIDIN REDUCTASE and SYNTHASE leading to catechin biosynthesis. The altered levels of quercetin and catechins in ‘YJX’ will impact on its tea flavor and health benefits.