Deletion of biosynthetic genes, specific SNP patterns and differences in transcript accumulation cause variation in hydroxynitrile glucoside content in barley cultivars

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Marcus Ehlert, Lea Møller Jagd, Ilka Braumann, Christoph Dockter, Christoph Crocoll, Mohammed Saddik Motawie, Birger Lindberg Møller, Michael Foged Lyngkjær

Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) produces five leucine-derived hydroxynitrile glucosides, potentially involved in alleviating pathogen and environmental stresses. These compounds include the cyanogenic glucoside epiheterodendrin. The biosynthetic genes are clustered. Total hydroxynitrile glucoside contents were previously shown to vary from zero to more than 10,000 nmoles g−1 in different barley lines. To elucidate the cause of this variation, the biosynthetic genes from the high-level producer cv. Mentor, the medium-level producer cv. Pallas, and the zero-level producer cv. Emir were investigated. In cv. Emir, a major deletion in the genome spanning most of the hydroxynitrile glucoside biosynthetic gene cluster was identified and explains the complete absence of hydroxynitrile glucosides in this cultivar. The transcript levels of the biosynthetic genes were significantly higher in the high-level producer cv. Mentor compared to the medium-level producer cv. Pallas, indicating transcriptional regulation as a contributor to the variation in hydroxynitrile glucoside levels. A correlation between distinct single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) patterns in the biosynthetic gene cluster and the hydroxynitrile glucoside levels in 227 barley lines was identified. It is remarkable that in spite of the demonstrated presence of a multitude of SNPs and differences in transcript levels, the ratio between the five hydroxynitrile glucosides is maintained across all the analysed barley lines. This implies the involvement of a stably assembled multienzyme complex.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5730
JournalScientific Reports
Pages (from-to)1-10
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2019

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