Proanthocyanidin metabolism

 

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THE TT10 GENE AFFECTS THE BROWING OF ARABIDOPSIS SEEDS

The browning of Arabidopsis seeds depends on their flavonoid content. The proanthocyanidins (PAs), also called condensed tannins, accumulate specifically in the seed coat and give the mature seed its brown colour after oxidation. The French scientists at INRA have studied the gene that controls this process.

The gene involved in controlling the browning process is known as TT10. It has been discovered that a mutation of this particular gene results in the absence of a polyphenol oxidase enzyme (laccase). The tt10 mutant seeds are yellow at maturity and accumulate more soluble PAs and less flavonol dimers than the wild type.

Flavonoid biosynthesis produces two major end-products in Arabidopsis thaliana seeds. These two end-products are PAs (i.e. polymers of epicatechin units), and flavonols. These seeds provide an excellent model for investigating flavonoid biosynthesis due to the wide range of mutants that lack the ability to produce flavonoids. The comparison of wild-type plants that produce flavonoids with mutant plants that do not produce them, can reveal those genes that are involved in flavonoid production.

Proanthocyanidins and flavonols are classes of flavonoids that have been found in large amounts in fruits and plant-derived products. They are formed as a result of plant metabolism. They play an important role in plant defence against biotic and abiotic stresses, and are known to have beneficial effects on human health. They have been shown to have antioxidant activity that may out-perform that of vitamin C and vitamin E.

For more information contact:
Isabelle Debeaujon

INRA, France

 

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