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Plant Biol (Stuttg). 2016 Mar;18(2):220-9. doi: 10.1111/plb.12399. Epub 2015 Oct 14.

Modification of flower colour by suppressing β-ring carotene hydroxylase genes in Oncidium.

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Institute of Plant Biology, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan.
Agricultural Biotechnology Research Center, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan.
Department of Agricultural Chemistry, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan.


Oncidium 'Gower Ramsey' (Onc. GR) is a popular cut flower, but its colour is limited to bright yellow. The β-ring carotene hydroxylase (BCH2) gene is involved in carotenoid biogenesis for pigment formation. However, the role of BCH2 in Onc. GR is poorly understood. Here, we investigated the functions of three BCH2 genes, BCH-A2, BCH-B2 and BCH-C2 isolated from Onc. GR, to analyse their roles in flower colour. RT-PCR expression profiling suggested that BCH2 was mainly expressed in flowers. The expression of BCH-B2 remained constant while that of BCH-A2 gradually decreased during flower development. Using Agrobacterium tumefaciens to introduce BCH2 RNA interference (RNAi), we created transgenic Oncidium plants with down-regulated BCH expression. In the transgenic plants, flower colour changed from the bright yellow of the wild type to light and white-yellow. BCH-A2 and BCH-B2 expression levels were significantly reduced in the transgenic flower lips, which make up the major portion of the Oncidium flower. Sectional magnification of the flower lip showed that the amount of pigmentation in the papillate cells of the adaxial epidermis was proportional to the intensity of yellow colouration. HPLC analyses of the carotenoid composition of the transgenic flowers suggested major reductions in neoxanthin and violaxanthin. In conclusion, BCH2 expression regulated the accumulation of yellow pigments in the Oncidium flower, and the down-regulation of BCH-A2 and BCH-B2 changed the flower colour from bright yellow to light and white-yellow.


HPLC; lutein; neoxanthin; real-time PCR; transgenic plants; violaxanthin

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