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Theor Appl Genet. 2005 Jun;111(1):120-7. Epub 2005 Apr 26.

The L locus, one of complementary genes required for anthocyanin production in onions (Allium cepa), encodes anthocyanidin synthase.

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


Bulb color in onions (Allium cepa) is an important trait, but its complex, unclear mechanism of inheritance has been a limiting factor in onion cultivar improvement. The identity of the L locus, which is involved in the color difference between Brazilian yellow and red onions, is revealed in this study. A cross was made between a US-type yellow breeding line and a Brazilian yellow cultivar. The segregation ratio of nine red to seven yellow onions in the F(2) population supports the involvement of two complementary genes in anthocyanin production in the F(1) hybrids. The high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and reverse-transcriptase (RT)-PCR analysis of the Brazilian yellow onions indicated that the genes are involved late in the anthocyanin synthesis pathway. The genomic sequence of the anthocyanidin synthase (ANS) gene in Brazilian yellow onions showed a point mutation, which results in an amino acid change of a glycine to an arginine at residue 229. Because this residue is located adjacent to a highly conserved iron-binding active site, this mutation is likely responsible for the inactivation of the ANS gene in Brazilian yellow onions. Following the isolation of the promoter sequence of the mutant allele, a PCR-based marker for allelic selection of the ANS gene was designed. This assay is based on an insertion (larger than 3 kb) mutation. The marker perfectly co-segregated with the color phenotypes in the F(2) populations, thereby indicating that the L locus encodes ANS.

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