Cloning of three genes involved in the flavonoid metabolic pathway and their expression during insect resistance in Pinus massoniana Lamb.
Pinus massoniana Lamb. is an important timber and turpentine-producing tree species in China. Dendrolimus punctatus and Dasychira axutha are leaf-eating pests that have harmful effects on P. massoniana production. Few studies have focused on the molecular mechanisms underlying pest resistance in P. massoniana. Based on sequencing analysis of the transcriptomes of insect-resistant P. massoniana, three key genes involved in the flavonoid metabolic pathway were identified in the present study (PmF3H, PmF3'5'H, and PmC4H). Structural domain analysis showed that the PmF3H gene contains typical binding sites for the 2OG-Fe (II) oxygenase superfamily, while PmF3'5'H and PmC4H both contain the cytochrome P450 structural domain, which is specific for P450 enzymes. Phylogenetic analysis showed that each of the three P. massoniana genes, and the homologous genes in gymnosperms, clustered into a group. Expression of these three genes was highest in the stems, and was higher in the insect-resistant P. massoniana varieties than in the controls. The extent of the increased expression in the insect-resistant P. massoniana varieties indicated that these three genes are involved in defense mechanisms against pests in this species. In the insect-resistant varieties, rapid induction of PmF3H increased the levels of PmF3'5'H and PmC4H expression. The enhanced anti-pest capability of the insect-resistant varieties could be related to temperature and humidity. In addition, these results suggest that these three genes maycontribute to the change in flower color during female cone development.