Increased substrate availability reveals the potential of scentless lisianthus flowers in producing fragrant benzenoid-phenylpropanoids

Fang Fang, Moran Oliva, Rinat Ovadia, Einat Bar, Ada Nissim-Levi, Varun Kumar, Ru Wang, Agmon Neeman, Michele Zaccai, Efraim Lewinsohn, Michal Oren-Shamir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorum), a leading plant in the cut flower industry, is scentless. Here we show that lisianthus flowers have potential to produce several fragrant benzenoid-phenylpropanoids when substrate availability is not limited. To enable hyperaccumulation of substrates for the production of volatile benzenoid-phenylpropanoids, lisianthus commercial hybrid “Excalibur Pink” was transformed via floral dipping with a feedback-insensitive Escherichia coli DAHP synthase (AroG*) and Clarkia breweri benzyl alcohol acetyltransferase (BEAT), under constitutive promoters. The T1 progeny of “Excalibur Pink” plants segregated into four visual phenotypes, with pink or white colored petals and multiple or single petal layers. Interestingly, transformation with AroG* and BEAT caused no significant effect in the pigment composition among phenotypes, but did increase the levels of down-stream fragrant volatile benzenoids. All the transgenic lines exclusively accumulated methyl benzoate, a fragrant benzenoid, either in their petals or leaves. Furthermore, feeding with benzyl alcohol resulted in the accumulation of two novel benzenoids, benzyl acetate (the product of BEAT) and benzoate, as well as a dramatic increase in the concentrations of additional benzenoid-phenylpropanoid volatiles. Presumably, the degree of benzaldehyde overproduction after benzyl alcohol feeding in both leaves and flowers revealed their reverse conversion in lisianthus plants. These findings demonstrate the concealed capability of lisianthus plants to produce a wide array of fragrant benzenoid-phenylpropanoids, given high substrate concentrations, which could in turn open opportunities for future scent engineering.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-28
Number of pages10
JournalPhysiologia Plantarum
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 May 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology


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