A new transcription factor that regulates the production of anthocyanins responsible for the red color of strawberries during ripening has been characterized by a research group at the University of Cordoba. The ripening process of strawberries determines their quality, organoleptic properties, and preferences of consumers and insects that disperse the seeds, promoting future plant growth.
The Biotechnology and Plant Pharmacognosy research group, led by Juan Muñoz Blanco, has been studying the genetic regulation of strawberry ripening for years. They have identified a new protein, a transcription factor (FaMYB123), that activates or suppresses the expression of other genes involved in the control of the fruit’s red color.
The study, which is part of Félix J. Martínez-Rivas’s doctoral thesis, was published in The Plant Journal. This transcription factor is responsible for the production of anthocyanins, the pigments that give strawberries their characteristic red color.
The research group validated their findings by creating a transgenic strawberry plant with repressed FaMYB123 expression, which resulted in decreased anthocyanin production and a less vibrant red color compared to normal fruit. However, FaMYB123 doesn’t work alone, as transcription factors usually function in combination with other factors. The study revealed that FaMYB123 interacts with another factor called FabHLH3, both of which contribute to increased anthocyanin production during strawberry ripening.
This study provides new insights into the regulation of strawberry ripening, which is crucial for Spain, Europe’s main producer of strawberries. The province of Huelva is a top producer of this fruit. Francisco Javier Molina Hidalgo, a member of the research team, stated that understanding the control of the ripening process, such as the red color of the fruit, enables genetic manipulation or the creation of new varieties in breeding programs.
Source: University of Córdoba