Tissue culture-induced flower-color changes in Saintpaulia caused by excision of the transposon inserted in the flavonoid 3', 5' hydroxylase (F3'5'H) promoter

Mitsuru Sato, Takashi Kawabe, Munetaka Hosokawa, Fumi Tatsuzawa, Motoaki Doi
Plant Cell Reports 2011, 30 (5): 929-39
The variegated Saintpaulia cultivar Thamires (Saintpaulia sp.), which has pink petals with blue splotches, is generally maintained by leaf cuttings. In contrast, tissue culture-derived progeny of the cultivar showed not only a high percentage of mutants with solid-blue petals but also other solid-color variants, which have not been observed from leaf cuttings. Solid-color phenotypes were inherited stably by their progeny from tissue culture. Petals from each solid-color variant were analyzed by high-performance liquid chromatography and shown to contain different proportions of three main anthocyanin derivatives: malvidin, peonidin, and pelargonidin. Analysis of flavonoid 3', 5'-hydroxylase (F3'5'H) sequences showed no differences in the coding region among the variants and variegated individuals. However, a transposon belonging to the hAT superfamily was found in the promoter region of variegated individuals, and the presence of transposon-related insertions or deletions correlated with the observed flower-color phenotypes. Solid-blue flower mutants contained 8-base pair (bp) insertions (transposon excision footprints), while solid-pink mutants had 58- to 70-bp insertions, and purple- and deep-purple mutants had 21- and 24-bp deletions, respectively. Real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis showed that F3'5'H expression levels correlated with insertions and deletions (indels) caused by hAT excision, resulting in flower-color differences. Our results showed that tissue culture of Saintpaulia 'Thamires' elicits transposon excision, which in turn alters F3'5'H expression levels and flower colors.

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