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Integrated Metabolomics and Transcriptomics Analyses Reveal the Molecular Mechanisms Underlying the Accumulation of Anthocyanins and Other Flavonoids in Cowpea Pod (Vigna unguiculata L.)

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posted on 13.08.2020, 15:05 by Yan Li, Qiyan Chen, Xiaodong Xie, Yu Cai, Jiangfeng Li, Yiling Feng, Yanjie Zhang
As an important vegetable crop of the legume family, cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L.) is grown widely for its tender pod with good taste and nutrition. The purple cowpea pods attract more attention mainly for the eye-catching color and health-promoting ingredients. Initially, large quantities of two major anthocyanins (delphinidin 3-O-glucoside and cyanidin 3-O-glucoside) and nine kinds of flavonoids (most are quercetin-based flavonol glycosides) were separated and identified from purple cowpea pod by ultra-high performance liquid chromatography coupled with quadrupole Orbitrap high-resolution mass spectrometry. To study them systematically, two representative cowpea cultivars with a drastic difference in anthocyanin accumulation were further analyzed by the integration of metabolomics and transcriptomics. A total of 56 differentially accumulated metabolites and 4142 differentially expressed genes were identified, respectively. On the basis of the comprehensive analysis of multiomic data, it was shown that VuMYB90-1, VuMYB90-2, VuMYB90-3, VuCPC, VuMYB4, and endogenous bHLH and WD40 proteins coordinately control anthocyanin and flavonoid accumulation via transcriptional regulation of structural genes in purple cowpea pod.