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Use of the growing environment as a source of variation to identify the quantitative trait transcripts and modules of co-expressed genes that determine chlorogenic acid accumulation

Joët T., Salmona J., Laffargue A., Descroix F., Dussert S.. 2010. Plant, Cell and Environment, 33 (7) : p. 1220-1233.

DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-3040.2010.02141.x

Developing Coffea arabica seeds accumulate large amounts of chlorogenic acids (CGAs) as a storage form of phenylpropanoid derivatives, making coffee a valuable model to investigate the metabolism of these widespread plant phenolics. However, developmental and environmental regulations of CGA metabolism are poorly understood. In the present work, the expression of selected phenylpropanoid genes, together with CGA isomer profiles, was monitored throughout seed development across a wide set of contrasted natural environments. Although CGA metabolism was controlled by major developmental factors, the mean temperature during seed development had a direct impact on the time-window of CGA biosynthesis, as well as on final CGA isomer composition through subtle transcriptional regulations.We provide evidence that the variability induced by the environment is a useful tool to test whether CGA accumulation is quantitatively modulated at the transcriptional level, hence enabling detection of rate-limiting transcriptional steps [quantitative trait transcripts (QTTs)] for CGA biosynthesis. Variations induced by the environment also enabled a better description of the phenylpropanoid gene transcriptional network throughout seed development, as well as the detection of three temporally distinct modules of quantitatively co-expressed genes. Finally, analysis of metabolite-to-metabolite relationships revealed new biochemical characteristics of the isomerization steps that remain uncharacterized at the gene level.

Mots-clés : acide chlorogénique; coffea arabica; réunion; france

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