New flavonoids protect plants from damaging UV rays

August 23, 2016

Discovery of compounds and gene providing protection from damaging UV light

Chiba University and RIKEN CSRS, in collaboration with Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology in Germany, have isolated and identified natural compounds that constitute a new sub-class of flavonoids in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, a member of the Brassicaceae family. The compounds protect plant flowers against harmful ultraviolet radiation. Researchers also identified the responsible gene, which is expressed only in plants derived from habitats with strong ultraviolet radiation. As biosynthesis genes with similar sequences are also found in the genomes of other Brassicaceae plants, more in-depth research on stress-adaptive evolution in this plant family is needed. This research is the first clarification of a) different naturally occurring ecotypes that have built up protective functions with flavonoids characteristically correlated with ultraviolet stress and 2) their biosynthetic gene.


Original article
Nature Communications doi: 10.1038/NCOMMS12399
T. Tohge, R. Wendenburg, H. Ishihara, R. Nakabayashi, M. Watanabe, R. Sulpice, R. Hoefgen, H. Takayama, K. Saito, M. Stitt, A. R. Fernie,
"Characterization of a recently evolved flavonolphenylacyltransferase gene provides signatures of natural light selection in Brassicaceae".

Kazuki Saito
Group Director
Metabolomics Research Group