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Plant Mol Biol. 2001 Feb;45(3):281-93.

Analysis of carotenoid biosynthetic gene expression during marigold petal development.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry/MS330, University of Nevada, Reno 89557, USA.


Marigold (Tagetes erecta L.) flower petals synthesize and accumulate carotenoids at levels greater than 20 times that in leaves and provide an excellent model system to investigate the molecular biology and biochemistry of carotenoid biosynthesis in plants. In addition, marigold cultivars exist with flower colors ranging from white to dark orange due to >100-fold differences in carotenoid levels, and presumably similar changes in carbon flux through the pathway. To examine the expression of carotenoid genes in marigold petals, we have cloned the majority of the genes in this pathway and used these to assess their steady-state mRNA levels in four marigold cultivars with extreme differences in carotenoid content. We have also cloned genes encoding early steps in the biosynthesis of isopentenyl pyrophosphate (IPP), the precursor of all isoprenoids, including carotenoids, as well as two genes required for plastid division. Differences among the marigold varieties in the expression of these genes suggest that differences in mRNA transcription or stability underlie the vast differences in carotenoid synthesis and accumulation in the different marigold varieties.

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