The 3-deoxyanthocyanidin phytoalexins produced in sorghum leaves in response to Colletotrichum sublineolum have chemical structure similarities to the 3-deoxy flavonoids that are precursors of phlobaphene pigments. Phlobaphenes are commonly observed in the pericarp of mature sorghum grains, while synthesis of 3-deoxyanthocyanidin phytoalexins is a site-specific response to infection with C. sublineolum. We have taken a genetic approach to investigate the possible overlap between the two sub-branches of flavonoid biosynthesis in sorghum that lead to phlobaphenes and 3-deoxyanthocyanidin phytoalexins. A sorghum line with a functional y1 gene synthesizes 3-deoxyanthocyanidins as well as phlobaphenes. However, a progenitor line with the mutable Y1-candystripe (Y1-cs) allele shows variable levels of biosynthesis of these compounds. The Y1-cs allele carries a copy of the Candystripe1 (Cs1) transposable element in the y1 gene. We demonstrate here that the variability in the expression of 3-deoxyanthocyanidins produced in individual mesocotyls of hyper-mutable Y1-cs plants is a function of the activity of the y1 gene. The Cs1 insertion in the Y1-cs allele blocks y1 function, while excision of Cs1 out of the y1 locus restores the gene to a functional state. The combined molecular and biochemical characterization of sibling plants confirms that the allelic state of the y1 gene is completely correlated with the production of phytoalexins in response to fungal infection. These results provide support for the idea that the y1 gene regulates the biosynthesis of both 3-deoxyanthocyanidin phytoalexins and phlobaphene pigments in sorghum.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Plant Science