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The distribution of coumarins and furanocoumarins in Citrus species closely matches Citrus phylogeny and reflects the organization of biosynthetic pathways

Dugrand-Judek A., Olry A., Hehn A., Costantino G., Ollitrault P., Froelicher Y., Bourgaud F.. 2015. PloS One, 10 (11) : 25 p..

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0142757

Citrus plants are able to produce defense compounds such as coumarins and furanocoumarins to cope with herbivorous insects and pathogens. In humans, these chemical compounds are strong photosensitizers and can interact with medications, leading to the ¿grapefruit juice effect¿. Removing coumarins and furanocoumarins from food and cosmetics imply additional costs and might alter product quality. Thus, the selection of Citrus cultivars displaying low coumarin and furanocoumarin contents constitutes a valuable alternative. In this study, we performed ultra-performance liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry analyses to determine the contents of these compounds within the peel and the pulp of 61 Citrus species representative of the genetic diversity all Citrus. Generally, Citrus peel contains larger diversity and higher concentrations of coumarin/furanocoumarin than the pulp of the same fruits. According to the chemotypes found in the peel, Citrus species can be separated into 4 groups that correspond to the 4 ancestral taxa (pummelos, mandarins, citrons and papedas) and extended with their respective secondary species descendants. Three of the 4 ancestral taxa (pummelos, citrons and papedas) synthesize high amounts of these compounds, whereas mandarins appear practically devoid of them. Additionally, all ancestral taxa and their hybrids are logically organized according to the coumarin and furanocoumarin pathways described in the literature. This organization allows hypotheses to be drawn regarding the biosynthetic origin of compounds for which the biogenesis remains unresolved. Determining coumarin and furanocoumarin contents is also helpful for hypothesizing the origin of Citrus species for which the phylogeny is presently not firmly established. Finally, this work also notes favorable hybridization schemes that will lead to low coumarin and furanocoumarin contents, and we propose to select mandarins and Ichang papeda as Citrus varieties for use in creating species devoid of these toxic compounds in future breeding programs.

Mots-clés : citrus; pelure; pulpe de fruits; composition chimique; composé aromatique; coumarine; phylogénie; biosynthèse; variation génétique; variété; citrus medica; citrus maxima; citrus reticulata; citrus aurantium; citrus paradisi; citrus limon; citrus aurantiifolia; agrume; spectrométrie de masse; hplc; substance toxique; corse; france; citrus micrantha; furanocoumarine

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