Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Transcriptional regulation of flavonoid biosynthesis in nectarine (Prunus persica) by a set of R2R3 MYB transcription factors

Daniela Ravaglia1, Richard V Espley2, Rebecca A Henry-Kirk2, Carlo Andreotti3, Vanina Ziosi1, Roger P Hellens2, Guglielmo Costa1 and Andrew C Allan24*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Fruit Tree and Woody Plant Sciences, Alma Mater Studiorum, University of Bologna, Viale Fanin 46, 40127, Bologna, Italy

2 The New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research (PFR), Private Bag 92 169, Auckland, New Zealand

3 Faculty of Science and Technology, Free University of Bozen, Piazza Università 5, Bozen, 39100, Italy

4 School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92 019, Auckland, New Zealand

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BMC Plant Biology 2013, 13:68  doi:10.1186/1471-2229-13-68

Published: 25 April 2013



Flavonoids such as anthocyanins, flavonols and proanthocyanidins, play a central role in fruit colour, flavour and health attributes. In peach and nectarine (Prunus persica) these compounds vary during fruit growth and ripening. Flavonoids are produced by a well studied pathway which is transcriptionally regulated by members of the MYB and bHLH transcription factor families. We have isolated nectarine flavonoid regulating genes and examined their expression patterns, which suggests a critical role in the regulation of flavonoid biosynthesis.


In nectarine, expression of the genes encoding enzymes of the flavonoid pathway correlated with the concentration of proanthocyanidins, which strongly increases at mid-development. In contrast, the only gene which showed a similar pattern to anthocyanin concentration was UDP-glucose-flavonoid-3-O-glucosyltransferase (UFGT), which was high at the beginning and end of fruit growth, remaining low during the other developmental stages. Expression of flavonol synthase (FLS1) correlated with flavonol levels, both temporally and in a tissue specific manner. The pattern of UFGT gene expression may be explained by the involvement of different transcription factors, which up-regulate flavonoid biosynthesis (MYB10, MYB123, and bHLH3), or repress (MYB111 and MYB16) the transcription of the biosynthetic genes. The expression of a potential proanthocyanidin-regulating transcription factor, MYBPA1, corresponded with proanthocyanidin levels. Functional assays of these transcription factors were used to test the specificity for flavonoid regulation.


MYB10 positively regulates the promoters of UFGT and dihydroflavonol 4-reductase (DFR) but not leucoanthocyanidin reductase (LAR). In contrast, MYBPA1 trans-activates the promoters of DFR and LAR, but not UFGT. This suggests exclusive roles of anthocyanin regulation by MYB10 and proanthocyanidin regulation by MYBPA1. Further, these transcription factors appeared to be responsive to both developmental and environmental stimuli.

Anthocyanin; Transcriptional regulation; MYB; Peach; Nectarine; Prunus persica; Light