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Plant Physiol. 2013 Oct;163(2):946-58. doi: 10.1104/pp.113.224352. Epub 2013 Aug 27.

Eugenol production in achenes and receptacles of strawberry fruits is catalyzed by synthases exhibiting distinct kinetics.

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Instituto de Hortofruticultura Subtropical y Mediterránea, Universidad de Málaga-Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Departamento de Biología Molecular y Bioquímica, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Málaga, Campus de Teatinos s/n, E-29071 Málaga, Spain.


Eugenol is a volatile that serves as an attractant for pollinators of flowers, acts as a defense compound in various plant tissues, and contributes to the aroma of fruits. Its production in a cultivated species such as strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa), therefore, is important for the viability and quality of the fruit. We have identified and functionally characterized three strawberry complementary DNAs (cDNAs) that encode proteins with high identity to eugenol synthases from several plant species. Based on a sequence comparison with the wild relative Fragaria vesca, two of these cDNAs, FaEGS1a and FaEGS1b, most likely correspond to transcripts derived from allelic gene variants, whereas the third cDNA, FaEGS2, corresponds to a different gene. Using coniferyl acetate as a substrate, FaEGS1a and FaEGS1b catalyze the in vitro formation of eugenol, while FaEGS2 catalyzes the formation of eugenol and also of isoeugenol with a lower catalytic efficiency. The expression of these genes is markedly higher in the fruit than in other tissues of the plant, with FaEGS1a and FaEGS1b mostly expressed in the green achenes, whereas FaEGS2 expression is almost restricted to the red receptacles. These expression patterns correlate with the eugenol content, which is highest in the achene at the green stage and in the receptacle at the red stage. The transient expression of the corresponding cDNAs in strawberry fruit and the subsequent volatile analyses confirm FaEGSs as genuine eugenol synthases in planta. These results provide new insights into the diversity of phenylpropene synthases in plants.

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