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Open Access Open Badges Research article

RNA sequencing on Solanum lycopersicum trichomes identifies transcription factors that activate terpene synthase promoters

Eleni A Spyropoulou, Michel A Haring and Robert C Schuurink*

Author Affiliations

Department of Plant Physiology, Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences, University of Amsterdam, Science Park 904, Amsterdam 1098 XH, The Netherlands

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BMC Genomics 2014, 15:402  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-402

Published: 27 May 2014



Glandular trichomes are production and storage organs of specialized metabolites such as terpenes, which play a role in the plant’s defense system. The present study aimed to shed light on the regulation of terpene biosynthesis in Solanum lycopersicum trichomes by identification of transcription factors (TFs) that control the expression of terpene synthases.


A trichome transcriptome database was created with a total of 27,195 contigs that contained 743 annotated TFs. Furthermore a quantitative expression database was obtained of jasmonic acid-treated trichomes. Sixteen candidate TFs were selected for further analysis. One TF of the MYC bHLH class and one of the WRKY class were able to transiently transactivate S. lycopersicum terpene synthase promoters in Nicotiana benthamiana leaves. Strikingly, SlMYC1 was shown to act synergistically with a previously identified zinc finger-like TF, Expression of Terpenoids 1 (SlEOT1) in transactivating the SlTPS5 promoter.


High-throughput sequencing of tomato stem trichomes led to the discovery of two transcription factors that activated several terpene synthase promoters. Our results identified new elements of the transcriptional regulation of tomato terpene biosynthesis in trichomes, a largely unexplored field.

Tomato trichomes; Terpene biosynthesis; Transcription factor; High-throughput sequencing