Background: Phalaenopsis bellina and its closely related species, P. violacea, emit linalool, geraniol and their derivatives as the predominant monoterpenes at the full-bloom stages. Geranyl diphosphate synthase (PbGDPS) is the key enzyme that converts precursors for monoterpene biosynthesis. Besides the monoterpenes being synthesized in concert with floral development stages, we noticed that the scent emission of P. bellina and P. violacea was detected mainly in the daytime. Results: The monoterpenes of P. violacea flowers displayed a diurnal emission pattern, which was regulated by an internal oscillator in the treatment of constant light. In contrast, constant dark diminished the scent emission levels, indicating that light also affects monoterpene emission in P. violacea. Further treating P. violacea with various light wavelengths showed that the monoterpene emission was greatest in white light condition. Other Phalaenopsis hybrids, including P. I-Hsin Venus ‘KHM2212’ and P. Meidarland Bellina Age ‘LM128’, responded differently to various light wavelengths but most of them still showed the highest scent emission under the whole spectra of light. A great number of light-responsive, HY5-interacting, and circadian-responsive elements was enriched on the promoters of both structural genes and transcription factors for monoterpene biosynthesis. Furthermore, several putative genes encoding components involved in light and circadian signaling pathways were also identified in the transcriptome of P. bellina flowers at consecutive stages (from the anthesis day to day 7 post anthesis). Conclusions: Taken together, both circadian clock and light factors had positive effects on orchid floral scent emission, and the regulation resided on the control of both structural genes and transcription factors for monoterpene biosynthesis.
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