Research Article

Transcriptomic analysis of Camellia ptilophylla and identification of genes associated with flavonoid and caffeine biosynthesis

Published: December 29, 2015
Genet. Mol. Res. 14 (4) : 18731-18742 DOI: 10.4238/2015.December.28.22

Abstract

Camellia ptilophylla, or cocoa tea, is naturally decaffeinated and its predominant catechins and purine alkaloids are trans-catechins and theobromine Regular tea [Camellia sinensis (L.) O. Ktze.] is evolutionarily close to cocoa tea and produces cis-catechins and caffeine. Here, the transcriptome of C. ptilophylla was sequenced using the 101-bp paired-end technique. The quality of the raw data was assessed to yield 70,227,953 cleaned reads totaling 7.09 Gbp, which were assembled de novo into 56,695 unique transcripts and then clustered into 44,749 unigenes. In catechin biosynthesis, leucoanthocyanidin reductase (LAR) catalyzes the transition of leucoanthocyanidin to trans-catechins, while anthocyanidin synthase (ANS) and anthocyanidin reductase (ANR) catalyze cis-catechin production. Our data demonstrate that two LAR genes (CpLAR1 and CpLAR2) by C. ptilophylla may be advantageous due to the combined effects of this quantitative trait, permitting increased leucoanthocyanidin consumption for the synthesis of trans-catechins. In contrast, the only ANS gene observed in C. sinensis (CsANS) shared high identity (99.2%) to one homolog from C. ptilophylla (CpANS1), but lower identity (~80%) to another (CpANS2). We hypothesized that the diverged CpANS2 might have lost its ability to synthesize cis-catechins. C. ptilophylla and C. sinensis each contain two copies of ANR, which share high identity and may share the same function. Transcriptomic sequencing captured two N-methyl nucleosidase genes named NMT1 and NMT2. NMT2 was highly identical to three orthologous genes TCS2, PCS2, and ICS2, which did not undergo methylation in vitro; in contrast, NMT1 was less identical to TCS, PCS and ICS, indicating that NMT1 may undergo neofunctionalization.

Camellia ptilophylla, or cocoa tea, is naturally decaffeinated and its predominant catechins and purine alkaloids are trans-catechins and theobromine Regular tea [Camellia sinensis (L.) O. Ktze.] is evolutionarily close to cocoa tea and produces cis-catechins and caffeine. Here, the transcriptome of C. ptilophylla was sequenced using the 101-bp paired-end technique. The quality of the raw data was assessed to yield 70,227,953 cleaned reads totaling 7.09 Gbp, which were assembled de novo into 56,695 unique transcripts and then clustered into 44,749 unigenes. In catechin biosynthesis, leucoanthocyanidin reductase (LAR) catalyzes the transition of leucoanthocyanidin to trans-catechins, while anthocyanidin synthase (ANS) and anthocyanidin reductase (ANR) catalyze cis-catechin production. Our data demonstrate that two LAR genes (CpLAR1 and CpLAR2) by C. ptilophylla may be advantageous due to the combined effects of this quantitative trait, permitting increased leucoanthocyanidin consumption for the synthesis of trans-catechins. In contrast, the only ANS gene observed in C. sinensis (CsANS) shared high identity (99.2%) to one homolog from C. ptilophylla (CpANS1), but lower identity (~80%) to another (CpANS2). We hypothesized that the diverged CpANS2 might have lost its ability to synthesize cis-catechins. C. ptilophylla and C. sinensis each contain two copies of ANR, which share high identity and may share the same function. Transcriptomic sequencing captured two N-methyl nucleosidase genes named NMT1 and NMT2. NMT2 was highly identical to three orthologous genes TCS2, PCS2, and ICS2, which did not undergo methylation in vitro; in contrast, NMT1 was less identical to TCS, PCS and ICS, indicating that NMT1 may undergo neofunctionalization.