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PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e48156. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0048156. Epub 2013 Jan 22.

De novo transcriptome assembly in chili pepper (Capsicum frutescens) to identify genes involved in the biosynthesis of capsaicinoids.

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College of Horticulture, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou, China.


The capsaicinoids are a group of compounds produced by chili pepper fruits and are used widely in many fields, especially in medical purposes. The capsaicinoid biosynthetic pathway has not yet been established clearly. To understand more knowledge in biosynthesis of capsaicinoids, we applied RNA-seq for the mixture of placenta and pericarp of pungent pepper (Capsicum frutescens L.). We have assessed the effect of various assembly parameters using different assembly software, and obtained one of the best strategies for de novo assembly of transcriptome data. We obtained a total 54,045 high-quality unigenes (transcripts) using Trinity software. About 92.65% of unigenes showed similarity to the public protein sequences, genome of potato and tomato and pepper (C. annuum) ESTs databases. Our results predicted 3 new structural genes (DHAD, TD, PAT), which filled gaps of the capsaicinoid biosynthetic pathway predicted by Mazourek, and revealed new candidate genes involved in capsaicinoid biosynthesis based on KEGG (Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes) analysis. A significant number of SSR (Simple Sequence Repeat) and SNP (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism) markers were predicted in C. frutescens and C. annuum sequences, which will be helpful in the identification of polymorphisms within chili pepper populations. These data will provide new insights to the pathway of capsaicinoid biosynthesis and subsequent research of chili peppers. In addition, our strategy of de novo transcriptome assembly is applicable to a wide range of similar studies.

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