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Theor Appl Genet. 2005 Feb;110(3):588-95. Epub 2005 Jan 13.

Development of a PCR-based marker utilizing a deletion mutation in the dihydroflavonol 4-reductase (DFR) gene responsible for the lack of anthocyanin production in yellow onions (Allium cepa).

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Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center, Department of Horticultural Sciences, Texas A&M University, TX, 77845, USA.


Bulb color in onions (Allium cepa) is an important trait, but the mechanism of color inheritance is poorly understood at the molecular level. A previous study showed that inactivation of the dihydroflavonol 4-reductase (DFR) gene at the transcriptional level resulted in a lack of anthocyanin production in yellow onions. The objectives of the present study were the identification of the critical mutations in the DFR gene (DFR-A) and the development of a PCR-based marker for allelic selection. We report the isolation of two additional DFR homologs (DFR-B and DFR-C). No unique sequences were identified in either DFR homolog, even in the untranslated region (UTR). Both genes shared more than 95% nucleotide sequence identity with the DFR-A gene. To obtain a unique sequence from each gene, we isolated the promoter regions. Sequences of the DFR-A and DFR-B promoters differed completely from one another, except for an approximately 100-bp sequence adjacent to the 5'UTR. It was possible to specifically amplify only the DFR-A gene using primers designed to anneal to the unique promoter region. The sequences of yellow and red DFR-A alleles were the same except for a single base-pair change in the promoter and an approximately 800-bp deletion within the 3' region of the yellow DFR-A allele. This deletion was used to develop a co-dominant PCR-based marker that segregated perfectly with color phenotypes in the F2 population. These results indicate that a deletion mutation in the yellow DFR-A gene results in the lack of anthocyanin production in yellow onions.

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