Auronidins are a previously unreported class of flavonoid pigments that challenges when anthocyanin biosynthesis evolved in plants

Berland, H
Albert, NW
Stavland, A
Jordheim, M
McGhie, TK
Zhou, Y
Zhang, H
Deroles, SC
Schwinn, KE
Jordan, BR
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Journal Article
Fields of Research
ANZSRC::05 Environmental Sciences , ANZSRC::06 Biological Sciences , ANZSRC::0607 Plant Biology
Anthocyanins are key pigments of plants, providing color to flowers, fruit, and foliage and helping to counter the harmful effects of environmental stresses. It is generally assumed that anthocyanin biosynthesis arose during the evolutionary transition of plants from aquatic to land environments. Liverworts, which may be the closest living relatives to the first land plants, have been reported to produce red cell wall-bound riccionidin pigments in response to stresses such as UV-B light, drought, and nutrient deprivation, and these have been proposed to correspond to the first anthocyanidins present in early land plant ancestors. Taking advantage of the liverwort model species Marchantia polymorpha, we show that the red pigments of Marchantia are formed by a phenylpropanoid biosynthetic branch distinct from that leading to anthocyanins. They constitute a previously unreported flavonoid class, for which we propose the name “auronidin,” with similar colors as anthocyanin but different chemistry, including strong fluorescence. Auronidins might contribute to the remarkable ability of liverworts to survive in extreme environments on land, and their discovery calls into question the possible pigment status of the first land plants.
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