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J Exp Bot. 2012 Jan;63(1):517-26. doi: 10.1093/jxb/err302. Epub 2011 Sep 26.

Carotenoid accumulation in orange-pigmented Capsicum annuum fruit, regulated at multiple levels.

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  • 1Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM 88003, USA.


The pericarp of Capsicum fruit is a rich dietary source of carotenoids. Accumulation of these compounds may be controlled, in part, by gene transcription of biosynthetic enzymes. The carotenoid composition in a number of orange-coloured C. annuum cultivars was determined using HPLC and compared with transcript abundances for four carotenogenic enzymes, Psy, LcyB, CrtZ-2, and Ccs determined by qRT-PCR. There were unique carotenoid profiles as well as distinct patterns of transcription of carotenogenic enzymes within the seven orange-coloured cultivars. In one cultivar, 'Fogo', carrying the mutant ccs-3 allele, transcripts were detected for this gene, but no CCS protein accumulated. The premature stop termination in ccs-3 prevented expression of the biosynthetic activity to synthesize the capsanthin and capsorubin forms of carotenoids. In two other orange-coloured cultivars, 'Orange Grande' and 'Oriole', both with wild-type versions of all four carotenogenic enzymes, no transcripts for Ccs were detected and no red pigments accumulated. Finally, in a third case, the orange-coloured cultivar, Canary, transcripts for all four of the wild-type carotenogenic enzymes were readily detected yet no CCS protein appeared to accumulate and no red carotenoids were synthesized. In the past, mutations in Psy and Ccs have been identified as the loci controlling colour in the fruit. Now there is evidence that a non-structural gene may control colour development in Capsicum.

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