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Assessment and Partial Characterization of Candidate Genes in Dihydrochalcone and Arbutin Biosynthesis in an Apple–Pear Hybrid by De Novo Transcriptome Assembly

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posted on 2024-05-08, 12:35 authored by Simón Miranda, Marion Koop, Andrea Angeli, Jorge Lagrèze, Mickael Malnoy, Stefan Martens
Apples (Malus × domestica Borkh.) and pears (Pyrus communis L.) are valuable crops closely related within the Rosaceae family with reported nutraceutical properties derived from secondary metabolites including phloridzin and arbutin, which are distinctive phenolic metabolites characterizing apples and pears, respectively. Here, we generated a de novo transcriptome assembly of an intergeneric hybrid between apple and pear, accumulating intermediate levels of phloridzin and arbutin. Combining RNA-seq, in silico functional annotation prediction, targeted gene expression analysis, and expression–metabolite correlations, we identified candidate genes for functional characterization, resulting in the identification of active arbutin synthases in the hybrid and parental genotypes. Despite exhibiting an active arbutin synthase in vitro, the natural lack of arbutin in apples is reasoned by the absence of the substrate and broad substrate specificity. Altogether, our study serves as the basis for future assessment of potential physiological roles of identified genes by genome editing of hybrids and pears.

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