Jin J, Kim MJ, Dhandapani S, Tjhang JG, Yin JL, Wong L, Sarojam R, Chua NH, Jang IC
Journal of Experimental Botany, 2015
The pleasant fragrance of ylang ylang varieties (Cananga odorata) is mainly due to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) produced by the flowers. Floral scents are a key factor in plant-insect interactions and are vital for successful pollination. C. odorata var. fruticosa, or dwarf ylang ylang, is a variety of ylang ylang that is popularly grown in Southeast Asia as a small shrub with aromatic flowers. Here, we describe the combined use of bioinformatics and chemical analysis to discover genes for the VOC biosynthesis pathways and related genes. The scented flowers of C. odorata var. fruticosa were analysed by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry and a total of 49 VOCs were identified at four different stages of flower development. The bulk of these VOCs were terpenes, mainly sesquiterpenes. To identify the various terpene synthases (TPSs) involved in the production of these essential oils, we performed RNA sequencing on mature flowers. From the RNA sequencing data, four full-length TPSs were functionally characterized. In vitro assays showed that two of these TPSs were mono-TPSs. CoTPS1 synthesized four products corresponding to β-thujene, sabinene, β-pinene, and α-terpinene from geranyl pyrophosphate and CoTPS4 produced geraniol from geranyl pyrophosphate. The other two TPSs were identified as sesqui-TPSs. CoTPS3 catalysed the conversion of farnesyl pyrophosphate to α-bergamotene, whereas CoTPS2 was found to be a multifunctional and novel TPS that could catalyse the synthesis of three sesquiterpenes, β-ylangene, β-copaene, and β-cubebene. Additionally, the activities of the two sesqui-TPSs were confirmed in planta by transient expression of these TPS genes in Nicotiana benthamiana leaves by Agrobacterium-mediated infiltration.
Jin J, Kim MJ, Dhandapani S, et al. The floral transcriptome of ylang ylang (Cananga odorata var. fruticosa) uncovers biosynthetic pathways for volatile organic compounds and a multifunctional and novel sesquiterpene synthase. J Exp Bot. 2015;66(13):3959-3975.