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Plant Cell Rep. 2007 Nov;26(11):1951-9. Epub 2007 Jul 17.

Production of red-flowered plants by genetic engineering of multiple flavonoid biosynthetic genes.

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Iwate Biotechnology Research Center, 22-174-4, Narita, Kitakami, Iwate 024-0003, Japan.


Orange- to red-colored flowers are difficult to produce by conventional breeding techniques in some floricultural plants. This is due to the deficiency in the formation of pelargonidin, which confers orange to red colors, in their flowers. Previous researchers have reported that brick-red colored flowers can be produced by introducing a foreign dihydroflavonol 4-reductase (DFR) with different substrate specificity in Petunia hybrida, which does not accumulate pelargonidin pigments naturally. However, because these experiments used dihydrokaempferol (DHK)-accumulated mutants as transformation hosts, this strategy cannot be applied directly to other floricultural plants. Thus in this study, we attempted to produce red-flowered plants by suppressing two endogenous genes and expressing one foreign gene using tobacco as a model plant. We used a chimeric RNAi construct for suppression of two genes (flavonol synthase [FLS] and flavonoid 3'-hydroxylase [F3'H]) and expression of the gerbera DFR gene in order to accumulate pelargonidin pigments in tobacco flowers. We successfully produced red-flowered tobacco plants containing high amounts of additional pelargonidin as confirmed by HPLC analysis. The flavonol content was reduced in the transgenic plants as expected, although complete inhibition was not achieved. Expression analysis also showed that reduction of the two-targeted genes and expression of the foreign gene occurred simultaneously. These results demonstrate that flower color modification can be achieved by multiple gene regulation without use of mutants if the vector constructs are designed resourcefully.

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