Developing a new variety of kentia palms (Howea forsteriana): up-regulation of cytochrome b561 and chalcone synthase is associated with the red coloration of the stems

Title: Developing a new variety of kentia palms (Howea forsteriana): up-regulation of cytochrome b561 and chalcone synthase is associated with the red coloration of the stems
Authors: Herraiz, A
Stokes, L
Turnbull, C
Hutton, I
Baker, W
Savolainen, V
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: The kentia palm (Howea forsteriana) is endemic to a 12 km2 volcanic island in the Tasman Sea, Lord Howe Island. It is one of the most traded houseplants in the world. The typical kentia palm presents a dark green-coloured stem. Note that the stem is made of leaf rachis and petioles, which are intermingled towards the base. However, we discovered on Lord Howe Island a new biological variety that has a red stem. Red-stemmed palm species are known and highly demanded as decorative plants. However, these red palm horticultural varieties require tropical or subtropical conditions to grow, hence commercialization is limited. Thus, a red-stemmed variety of H. forsteriana may have tremendous market potential. Nonetheless, palm trees grow generally slowly and often reach maturity at 15–20 years old or later, which may make conventional strategies unsuitable for the propagation of a new variety. This difficulty needs to be addressed before commercialization can be achieved. Here, we found that anthocyanin is responsible for the red colouration of the stem in the new variety. Using RNA sequencing and quantitative PCR, we identified two gene isoforms displaying altered expression associated with this red colouration, encoding a cytochrome b561 and a chalcone synthase. The latter protein is known to be part of the anthocyanin biosynthesis pathway, which plays a central role in pigmentation in plants. The levels of cytochrome b561 transcripts accumulated were found to be well correlated with an increased anthocyanin concentration in the red stems.
Issue Date: 5-Jan-2018
Date of Acceptance: 7-Dec-2017
ISSN: 2381-8115
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Start Page: 241
End Page: 247
Journal / Book Title: Botany Letters
Volume: 165
Issue: 2
Copyright Statement: © 2018 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Sponsor/Funder: Commission of the European Communities
Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
Commission of the European Communities
Funder's Grant Number: 233190
Keywords: Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Plant Sciences
Publication Status: Published
Online Publication Date: 2018-01-05
Appears in Collections:Faculty of Natural Sciences

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