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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Deciphering gamma-decalactone biosynthesis in strawberry fruit using a combination of genetic mapping, RNA-Seq and eQTL analyses

José F Sánchez-Sevilla1, Eduardo Cruz-Rus1, Victoriano Valpuesta2, Miguel A Botella2 and Iraida Amaya13*

Author Affiliations

1 Instituto Andaluz de Investigación y Formación Agraria y Pesquera, IFAPA-Centro de Churriana, Cortijo de la Cruz s/n, 29140 Málaga, Spain

2 Departamento de Biología Molecular y Bioquímica, Instituto de Hortofruticultura Subtropical y Mediterránea (IHSM-CSIC-UMA), 29071 Málaga, Spain

3 Horticultural Sciences Department, University of Florida, 1301 Fifield Hall, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA

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BMC Genomics 2014, 15:218  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-218

Published: 17 April 2014

Abstract

Background

Understanding the basis for volatile organic compound (VOC) biosynthesis and regulation is of great importance for the genetic improvement of fruit flavor. Lactones constitute an essential group of fatty acid-derived VOCs conferring peach-like aroma to a number of fruits including peach, plum, pineapple and strawberry. Early studies on lactone biosynthesis suggest that several enzymatic pathways could be responsible for the diversity of lactones, but detailed information on them remained elusive. In this study, we have integrated genetic mapping and genome-wide transcriptome analysis to investigate the molecular basis of natural variation in γ-decalactone content in strawberry fruit.

Results

As a result, the fatty acid desaturase FaFAD1 was identified as the gene underlying the locus at LGIII-2 that controls γ-decalactone production in ripening fruit. The FaFAD1 gene is specifically expressed in ripe fruits and its expression fully correlates with the presence of γ-decalactone in all 95 individuals of the mapping population. In addition, we show that the level of expression of FaFAH1, with similarity to cytochrome p450 hydroxylases, significantly correlates with the content of γ-decalactone in the mapping population. The analysis of expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) suggests that the product of this gene also has a regulatory role in the biosynthetic pathway of lactones.

Conclusions

Altogether, this study provides mechanistic information of how the production of γ-decalactone is naturally controlled in strawberry, and proposes enzymatic activities necessary for the formation of this VOC in plants.

Keywords:
Aroma; Crop improvement; Desaturase; Flavor; Hydroxylase; Lactone; eQTL