Biochemical and transcriptome analyses of a novel chlorophyll-deficient chlorina tea plant cultivar.
ABSTRACT: The tea plant (Camellia sinensis (L.) O. Kuntze) is one of the most economically important woody crops. Recently, many leaf color genotypes have been developed during tea plant breeding and have become valuable materials in the processing of green tea. Although the physiological characteristics of some leaf color mutants of tea plants have been partially revealed, little is known about the molecular mechanisms leading to the chlorina phenotype in tea plants.The yellow-leaf tea cultivar Zhonghuang 2 (ZH2) was selected during tea plant breeding. In comparison with Longjing 43 (LJ43), a widely planted green tea cultivar, ZH2 exhibited the chlorina phenotype and displayed significantly decreased chlorophyll contents. Transmission electron microscopy analysis revealed that the ultrastructure of the chloroplasts was disrupted, and the grana were poorly stacked in ZH2. Moreover, the contents of theanine and free amino acids were significantly higher, whereas the contents of carotenoids, catechins and anthocyanin were lower in ZH2 than in LJ43. Microarray analysis showed that the expression of 259 genes related to amino acid metabolism, photosynthesis and pigment metabolism was significantly altered in ZH2 shoots compared with those of LJ43 plants. Pathway analysis of 4,902 differentially expressed genes identified 24 pathways as being significantly regulated, including 'cysteine and methionine metabolism', 'glycine, serine and threonine metabolism', 'flavonoid biosynthesis', 'porphyrin and chlorophyll metabolism' and 'carotenoid biosynthesis'. Furthermore, a number of differentially expressed genes could be mapped to the 'theanine biosynthesis', 'chlorophyll biosynthesis' and 'flavonoid biosynthesis' pathways. Changes in the expression of genes involved in these pathways might be responsible for the different phenotype of ZH2.A novel chlorophyll-deficient chlorina tea plant cultivar was identified. Biochemical characteristics were analyzed and gene expression profiling was performed using a custom oligonucleotide-based microarray. This study provides further insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying the phenotype of the chlorina cultivar of Camellia sinensis.
Project description:Tea (Camellia sinensis) is a popular beverage all over the world and a number of studies have focused on the genetic uniqueness of tea and its cultivars. However, molecular mechanisms underlying these phenomena are largely undefined. In this report, based on expression data available from public databases, we performed a series of analyses to identify genes probably relevant to the uniqueness of C. sinensis and two of its cultivars (LJ43 and ZH2). Evolutionary analyses showed that the evolutionary rates of genes involved in the pathways were not significantly different among C. sinensis, C. oleifera, and C. azalea. Interestingly, a number of gene families, including genes involved in the pathways synthesizing iconic secondary metabolites of tea plant, were significantly upregulated, expressed in C. sinensis (LJ43) when compared to C. azalea, and this may partially explain its higher content of flavonoid, theanine, and caffeine. Further investigation showed that nonsynonymous mutations may partially contribute to the differences between the two cultivars of C. sinensis, such as the chlorina and higher contents of amino acids in ZH2. Genes identified as candidates are probably relevant to the uniqueness of C. sinensis and its cultivars should be good candidates for subsequent functional analyses and marker-assisted breeding.
Project description:Tea plant breeding is a topic of great economic importance. However, disease remains a major cause of yield and quality losses. In this study, an anthracnose-resistant cultivar, ZC108, was developed. An infection assay revealed different responses to Colletotrichum sp. infection between ZC108 and its parent cultivar LJ43. ZC108 had greater resistance than LJ43 to Colletotrichum camelliae. Additionally, ZC108 exhibited earlier sprouting in the spring, as well as different leaf shape and plant architecture. Microarray data revealed that the genes that are differentially expressed between LJ43 and ZC108 mapped to secondary metabolism-related pathways, including phenylpropanoid biosynthesis, phenylalanine metabolism, and flavonoid biosynthesis pathways. In addition, genes involved in plant hormone biosynthesis and signaling as well as plant-pathogen interaction pathways were also changed. Quantitative real-time PCR was used to examine the expression of 27 selected genes in infected and uninfected tea plant leaves. Genes encoding a MADS-box transcription factor, NBS-LRR disease-resistance protein, and phenylpropanoid metabolism pathway components (CAD, CCR, POD, beta-glucosidase, ALDH and PAL) were among those differentially expressed in ZC108.
Project description:Tea plants (Camellia sinensis) are used to produce one of the most important beverages worldwide. The nutritional value and healthful properties of tea are closely related to the large amounts of three major characteristic constituents including polyphenols (mainly catechins), theanine and caffeine. Although oil tea (Camellia oleifera) belongs to the genus Camellia, this plant lacks these three characteristic constituents. Comparative analysis of tea and oil tea via RNA-Seq would help uncover the genetic components underlying the biosynthesis of characteristic metabolites in tea.We found that 3,787 and 3,359 bud genes, as well as 4,042 and 3,302 leaf genes, were up-regulated in tea and oil tea, respectively. High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) analysis revealed high levels of all types of catechins, theanine and caffeine in tea compared to those in oil tea. Activation of the genes involved in the biosynthesis of these characteristic compounds was detected by RNA-Seq analysis. In particular, genes encoding enzymes involved in flavonoid, theanine and caffeine pathways exhibited considerably different expression levels in tea compared to oil tea, which were also confirmed by quantitative RT-PCR (qRT-PCR).We assembled 81,826 and 78,863 unigenes for tea and oil tea, respectively, based on their differences at the transcriptomic level. A potential connection was observed between gene expression and content variation for catechins, theanine and caffeine in tea and oil tea. The results demonstrated that the metabolism was activated during the accumulation of characteristic metabolites in tea, which were present at low levels in oil tea. From the molecular biological perspective, our comparison of the transcriptomes and related metabolites revealed differential regulatory mechanisms underlying secondary metabolic pathways in tea versus oil tea.
Project description:In this study, shade-induced conversion from a young pale/yellow leaf phenotype to a green leaf phenotype was studied using metabolic and transcriptomic profiling and the albino cultivar 'Yu-Jin-Xiang' ('YJX') of Camellia sinensis for a better understanding of mechanisms underlying the phenotype shift and the altered catechin and theanine production. Shaded leaf greening resulted from an increase in leaf chlorophyll and carotenoid abundance and chloroplast development. A total of 1,196 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were identified between the 'YJX' pale and shaded green leaves, and these DEGs affected 'chloroplast organization' and 'response to high light' besides many other biological processes and pathways. Metabolic flux redirection and transcriptomic reprogramming were found in flavonoid and carotenoid pathways of the 'YJX' pale leaves and shaded green leaves to different extents compared to the green cultivar 'Shu-Cha-Zao'. Enhanced production of the antioxidant quercetin rather than catechin biosynthesis was correlated positively with the enhanced transcription of FLAVONOL SYNTHASE and FLAVANONE/FLAVONOL HYDROXYLASES leading to quercetin accumulation and negatively correlated to suppressed LEUCOANTHOCYANIDIN REDUCTASE, ANTHOCYANIDIN REDUCTASE and SYNTHASE leading to catechin biosynthesis. The altered levels of quercetin and catechins in 'YJX' will impact on its tea flavor and health benefits.
Project description:The new shoots of the albino tea cultivar 'Anji Baicha' are yellow or white at low temperatures and turn green as the environmental temperatures increase during the early spring. 'Anji Baicha' metabolite profiles exhibit considerable variability over three color and developmental stages, especially regarding the carotenoid, chlorophyll, and theanine concentrations. Previous studies focused on physiological characteristics, gene expression differences, and variations in metabolite abundances in albino tea plant leaves at specific growth stages. However, the molecular mechanisms regulating metabolite biosynthesis in various color and developmental stages in albino tea leaves have not been fully characterized.We used RNA-sequencing to analyze 'Anji Baicha' leaves at the yellow-green, albescent, and re-greening stages. The leaf transcriptomes differed considerably among the three stages. Functional classifications based on Gene Ontology enrichment and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes enrichment analyses revealed that differentially expressed unigenes were mainly related to metabolic pathways, biosynthesis of secondary metabolites, phenylpropanoid biosynthesis, and carbon fixation in photosynthetic organisms. Chemical analyses revealed higher ?-carotene and theanine levels, but lower chlorophyll a levels, in the albescent stage than in the green stage. Furthermore, unigenes involved in carotenoid, chlorophyll, and theanine biosyntheses were identified, and the expression patterns of the differentially expressed unigenes in these biosynthesis pathways were characterized. Through co-expression analyses, we identified the key genes in these pathways. These genes may be responsible for the metabolite biosynthesis differences among the different leaf color and developmental stages of 'Anji Baicha' tea plants.Our study presents the results of transcriptomic and biochemical analyses of 'Anji Baicha' tea plants at various stages. The distinct transcriptome profiles for each color and developmental stage enabled us to identify changes to biosynthesis pathways and revealed the contributions of such variations to the albino phenotype of tea plants. Furthermore, comparisons of the transcriptomes and related metabolites helped clarify the molecular regulatory mechanisms underlying the secondary metabolic pathways in different stages.
Project description:Temperature is a major environmental signal that governs plant growth and development. A moderately high ambient temperature alters plant metabolism without significant induction of heat-stress responses. Despite ancillary reports on the negative effect of warmer climate on tea quality, information on specific effect of sub high temperature (SHT) on theanine accumulation is scanty. L-Theanine is the most abundant free amino acid in tea (Camellia sinensis L.) leaves that contributes to the unique umami flavor of green tea infusion. Tea harvested in warmer months lacks distinctive umami taste due to low theanine content. In this study, we showed that SHT (35°C) gradually decreased theanine concentration over time, which was closely associated with the SHT-induced suppression in theanine biosynthetic genes. 24-epibrassinolide (BR), a bioactive brassinosteroids, attenuated the SHT-induced reduction in theanine concentration by upregulating the transcript levels of theanine biosynthetic genes, such as ARGININE DECARBOXYLASE (CsADC), GLUTAMINE SYNTHETASE (CsGS), GLUTAMATE SYNTHASE (CsGOGAT) and THEANINE SYNTHASE (CsTS). Furthermore, time-course analysis of the activity of theanine biosynthetic enzyme reveals that BR-induced regulation of GS and GOGAT activity plays essential role in maintaining theanine content in tea leaves under SHT, which is consistent with the central position of GOGAT in theanine biosynthetic pathway. Therefore, it is convincing to propose that exogenous BR treatment can be advocated to improve summer tea quality by enhancing in vivo accumulation of theanine. However, a future challenge is to use this information on the role of BR in theanine biosynthesis and thermotolerance to further understand how BR may be tuned to benefit plant fitness for enhancing tea quality.
Project description:Theanine, a unique amino acid in Camellia sinensis, accounts for more than 50% of total free amino acids in tea and has a significant contribution to the quality of green tea. Previous research indicated that theanine is synthesized from glutamic acid (Glu) and ethylamine mainly in roots, and that theanine accumulation depends on the availability of ethylamine which is derived from alanine (Ala) decarboxylation catalyzed by alanine decarboxylase (AlaDC). However, the specific gene encoding AlaDC protein remains to be discovered in tea plants or in other species. To explore the gene of AlaDC in tea plants, the differences in theanine contents and gene expressions between pretreatment and posttreatment of long-time nitrogen starvation were analyzed in young roots of two tea cultivars. A novel gene annotated as serine decarboxylase (SDC) was noted for its expression levels, which showed high consistency with theanine content, and the expression was remarkably high in young roots under sufficient nitrogen condition. To verify its function, full-length complementary DNA (cDNA) of this candidate gene was cloned from young roots of tea seedlings, and the target protein was expressed and purified from Escherichia coli (E. coli). The enzymatic activity of the protein for Ala and Ser was measured in vitro using ultra-performance liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry (UPLC-MS). The results illustrated that the target protein could catalyze the decarboxylation of Ala despite of its high similarity with SDC from other species. Therefore, this novel gene was identified as AlaDC and named CsAlaDC. Furthermore, the gene expression levels of CsAlaDC in different tissues of tea plants were also quantified with quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR). The results suggest that transcription levels of CsAlaDC in root tissues are significantly higher than those in leaf tissues. That may explain why theanine biosynthesis preferentially occurs in the roots of tea plants. The expression of the gene was upregulated when nitrogen was present, suggesting that theanine biosynthesis is regulated by nitrogen supply and closely related to nitrogen metabolism for C. sinensis. The results of this study are significant supplements to the theanine biosynthetic pathway and provide evidence for the differential accumulation of theanine between C. sinensis and other species.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Nitrogen (N) nutrition significantly affected metabolism and accumulation of quality-related compounds in tea plant (Camellia sinensis L.). Little is known about the physiological and molecular mechanisms underlying the effects of short-term repression of N metabolism on tea roots and leaves for a short time. RESULTS:In this study, we subjected tea plants to a specific inhibitor of glutamine synthetase (GS), methionine sulfoximine (MSX), for a short time (30?min) and investigated the effect of the inhibition of N metabolism on the transcriptome and metabolome of quality-related compounds. Our results showed that GS activities in tea roots and leaves were significantly inhibited upon MSX treatment, and both tissue types showed a sensitive metabolic response to GS inhibition. In tea leaves, the hydrolysis of theanine decreased with the increase in theanine and free ammonium content. The biosynthesis of all other amino acids was repressed, and the content of N-containing lipids declined, suggesting that short-term inhibition of GS reduces the level of N reutilization in tea leaves. Metabolites related to glycolysis and the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle accumulated after GS repression, whereas the content of amino acids such as glycine, serine, isoleucine, threonine, leucine, and valine declined in the MXS treated group. We speculate that the biosynthesis of amino acids is affected by glycolysis and the TCA cycle in a feedback loop. CONCLUSIONS:Overall, our data suggest that GS repression in tea plant leads to the reprogramming of amino acid and lipid metabolic pathways.
Project description:Flavonoids, theanine and caffeine are the main secondary metabolites of the tea plant (Camellia sinensis), which account for the tea's unique flavor quality and health benefits. The biosynthesis pathways of these metabolites have been extensively studied at the transcriptional level, but the regulatory mechanisms are still unclear. In this study, to explore the transcriptome diversity and complexity of tea plant, PacBio Iso-Seq and RNA-seq analysis were combined to obtain full-length transcripts and to profile the changes in gene expression during the leaf development. A total of 1,388,066 reads of insert (ROI) were generated with an average length of 1,762 bp, and more than 54% (755,716) of the ROIs were full-length non-chimeric (FLNC) reads. The Benchmarking Universal Single-Copy Orthologue (BUSCO) completeness was 92.7%. A total of 93,883 non-redundant transcripts were obtained, and 87,395 (93.1%) were new alternatively spliced isoforms. Meanwhile, 7,650 differential expression transcripts (DETs) were identified. A total of 28,980 alternative splicing (AS) events were predicted, including 1,297 differential AS (DAS) events. The transcript isoforms of the key genes involved in the flavonoid, theanine and caffeine biosynthesis pathways were characterized. Additionally, 5,777 fusion transcripts and 9,052 long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) were also predicted. Our results revealed that AS potentially plays a crucial role in the regulation of the secondary metabolism of the tea plant. These findings enhanced our understanding of the complexity of the secondary metabolic regulation of tea plants and provided a basis for the subsequent exploration of the regulatory mechanisms of flavonoid, theanine and caffeine biosynthesis in tea plants.
Project description:The leaves of tea plants (Camellia sinensis) are used to produce tea, which is one of the most popular beverages consumed worldwide. The nutritional value and health benefits of tea are mainly related to three abundant characteristic metabolites; catechins, theanine and caffeine. Weighted gene co-expression network analysis (WGCNA) is a powerful system for investigating correlations between genes, identifying modules among highly correlated genes, and relating modules to phenotypic traits based on gene expression profiling. Currently, relatively little is known about the regulatory mechanisms and correlations between these three secondary metabolic pathways at the omics level in tea.In this study, levels of the three secondary metabolites in ten different tissues of tea plants were determined, 87,319 high-quality unigenes were assembled, and 55,607 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were identified by pairwise comparison. The resultant co-expression network included 35 co-expression modules, of which 20 modules were significantly associated with the biosynthesis of catechins, theanine and caffeine. Furthermore, we identified several hub genes related to these three metabolic pathways, and analysed their regulatory relationships using RNA-Seq data. The results showed that these hub genes are regulated by genes involved in all three metabolic pathways, and they regulate the biosynthesis of all three metabolites. It is notable that light was identified as an important regulator for the biosynthesis of catechins.Our integrated omics-level WGCNA analysis provides novel insights into the potential regulatory mechanisms of catechins, theanine and caffeine metabolism, and the identified hub genes provide an important reference for further research on the molecular biology of tea plants.