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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Apr 4;103(14):5608-13. Epub 2006 Mar 27.

L-tartaric acid synthesis from vitamin C in higher plants.

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  • 1School of Agriculture, Food, and Wine, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia.

Abstract

The biosynthetic pathway of L-tartaric acid, the form most commonly encountered in nature, and its catabolic ties to vitamin C, remain a challenge to plant scientists. Vitamin C and L-tartaric acid are plant-derived metabolites with intrinsic human value. In contrast to most fruits during development, grapes accumulate L-tartaric acid, which remains within the berry throughout ripening. Berry taste and the organoleptic properties and aging potential of wines are intimately linked to levels of L-tartaric acid present in the fruit, and those added during vinification. Elucidation of the reactions relating L-tartaric acid to vitamin C catabolism in the Vitaceae showed that they proceed via the oxidation of L-idonic acid, the proposed rate-limiting step in the pathway. Here we report the use of transcript and metabolite profiling to identify candidate cDNAs from genes expressed at developmental times and in tissues appropriate for L-tartaric acid biosynthesis in grape berries. Enzymological analyses of one candidate confirmed its activity in the proposed rate-limiting step of the direct pathway from vitamin C to tartaric acid in higher plants. Surveying organic acid content in Vitis and related genera, we have identified a non-tartrate-forming species in which this gene is deleted. This species accumulates in excess of three times the levels of vitamin C than comparably ripe berries of tartrate-accumulating species, suggesting that modulation of tartaric acid biosynthesis may provide a rational basis for the production of grapes rich in vitamin C.

PMID:
16567629
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC1459401
Free PMC Article

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