New insight into the molecular mechanism of colour differentiation among floral segments in orchids

Bai Jun Li, Bao Qiang Zheng, Jie Yu Wang, Wen Chieh Tsai, Hsiang Chia Lu, Long Hai Zou, Xiao Wan, Di Yang Zhang, Hong Juan Qiao, Zhong Jian Liu, Yan Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Citations (Scopus)


An unbalanced pigment distribution among the sepal and petal segments results in various colour patterns of orchid flowers. Here, we explored this type of mechanism of colour pattern formation in flowers of the Cattleya hybrid ‘KOVA’. Our study showed that pigment accumulation displayed obvious spatiotemporal specificity in the flowers and was likely regulated by three R2R3-MYB transcription factors. Before flowering, RcPAP1 was specifically expressed in the epichile to activate the anthocyanin biosynthesis pathway, which caused substantial cyanin accumulation and resulted in a purple-red colour. After flowering, the expression of RcPAP2 resulted in a low level of cyanin accumulation in the perianths and a pale pink colour, whereas RcPCP1 was expressed only in the hypochile, where it promoted α-carotene and lutein accumulation and resulted in a yellow colour. Additionally, we propose that the spatiotemporal expression of different combinations of AP3- and AGL6-like genes might participate in KOVA flower colour pattern formation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number89
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Dec 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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