Plant Color Metabolomics (1/2)

In the previous blog, "Metabolomics of Plant Pigmentation," we have explored the Rich Tapestry of Natural Color. Here, we share 5 client publications on the use of omic technology, specifically metabolomics, to study the different colors in plants.


1. Quinoa: Color Affects Flavonoid Content

On February 6, 2023, the research article titled "Metabolomics analysis reveals the accumulation patterns of flavonoids and phenolic acids in quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.) grains of different colors" was published online in Food Chemistry: X. The study aimed to comprehensively understand the active ingredients in different-colored quinoa and provide a theoretical basis for its nutritional value.


The study employed widely targeted metabolomics technology to detect metabolites in three different-colored quinoa grains and identified a total of 689 metabolites, including 298 secondary metabolites. Differential analysis revealed that the major difference between red and black quinoa was flavonoids and phenolic acids. However, in white varieties, most flavonoids had higher levels than those in red and black quinoa, while phenolic acid content was lower. These research results provide new ideas for future quinoa breeding.


2. Black Rice: Higher Nutritional Value Due to Antioxidants

On January 15, 2023, the research article titled "Comparative analysis of rice reveals insights into the mechanism of colored rice via widely targeted metabolomics" was published online in Food Chemistry. The study aimed to comprehensively explore the metabolites in different-colored rice grains to supplement the current lack of research on some antioxidant substances in different-colored grains and explore their nutritional value.


The study employed widely targeted metabolomics technology to detect metabolites in four different-colored rice grains (black, red, white, and glutinous rice) and identified 732 metabolites, including 102 phenolic acids, 50 flavonoids, and 12 anthocyanins. Differential analysis showed that there were 117 differential metabolites when comparing black rice with the other three varieties, including 58 flavonoids and 25 phenolic acids. Twenty metabolites were only found in black rice and have high antioxidant activity. Additionally, four anthocyanins (cyanidin-3-O-galactoside, cyanidin-3-O-glucoside, peonidin-3-O-glucoside, and cyanidin-3-O-rutinoside) were detected at higher levels in black rice. This study identified the comprehensive metabolites in different-colored rice grains.


3. Hawthorn Berries: Deep Red Varieties Have Higher Antioxidant Activity

On June 15, 2022, the research article titled "Comparative metabolomic analysis of different-colored hawthorn berries (Crataegus pinnatifida) provides a new interpretation of color trait and antioxidant activity" was published online in LWT-Food Science and Technology. The study aimed to analyze the composition of metabolites that contribute to the color and antioxidant activity of hawthorn berries.


hawthorn_fruitsThe study employed widely targeted metabolomics technology to detect metabolites in the fruit flesh of four different-colored hawthorn berries and identified a total of 728 metabolites. Three unique metabolites were found for the first time, including A-type linkages original anthocyanins in hawthorn fruits. Deep red hawthorn berries contain more flavonoids, phenolic acids, and terpenes than the other three berries. Consistent with this result, deep red hawthorn berries have the highest antioxidant capacity among all varieties. In terms of color, deep red hawthorn berries contain significantly higher levels of anthocyanins than other varieties. However, there was no significant difference in anthocyanin content between green-white and orange-red varieties.


4. The Formation of Purple Tea Leaves: Insight into Pigmented Anthocyanins and Co-pigmented Flavonoids

On November 30, 2021, the research article titled "Insight into the pigmented anthocyanins and the major potential co-pigmented flavonoids in purple-coloured leaf teas" was published in Food Chemistry. The article aimed to analyze the metabolic basis of purple tea leaves and identify co-pigmented substances involved in purple formation.



The study used widely-targeted metabolomics technology to detect flavonoids and identified 226 metabolites, including 33 anthocyanins. Most anthocyanins in purple tea have higher levels than those in green tea. Additionally, there are more monosaccharide glycosylated, acylated, and methylated anthocyanins in purple tea, which may contribute to the formation of purple. Furthermore, more glycosylated flavonoids (such as apigenin and quercetin glycosides) were identified in purple tea, which could stabilize the structure of anthocyanin glycosides. This study found more color-related anthocyanin substances than previous studies and identified flavonoids that may act as co-pigments, providing a significant contribution to the study of purple tea formation.


5. Albino Tea Mutant with a Fresher Taste

On August 8, 2021, the research article titled "Metabolite profiling in albino tea mutant Camellia sinensis 'Fuyun 6' using LC-ESI-MS/MS" was published in Trees. The article aimed to study the metabolic accumulation in albino tea due to natural mutations under the same genetic background.


Albino_Tea_Mutant_with_a_Fresher_TasteThe study used widely targeted metabolomics technology to detect metabolites in two different-colored tea leaves and identified a total of 794 metabolites, including 124 differential metabolites. Among these, 48 flavonoids and 24 phenolic acids, important for tea quality, were identified, as well as L-dopa, l-arginine, and l-tyrosine in albino tea, which can increase the freshness of tea. Additionally, albino tea contains flavonoids with O-dihydroxylated B rings (such as catechin gallate, quercetin and its glycosides), which have photoprotective effects. The increased content of L-ascorbic acid in albino tea also ensures normal growth despite the absence of chlorophyll.


These are today's featured contents, and in our next issue, we will share five more customer publications on metabolomics in plant color research. If you work with plant pigmentation and are interested in metabolomics or lipidomics technology, please follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn for the latest updates!



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