An in vivo system was developed to determine the effects of pH on naturally occurring pigment complexes within cells. The in vivo system was based on a transposable element activator (Ac) inserted into the Ph6 gene. The transposable element activator (Ac) was crossed into two genetically marked Petunia hybrida lines expressing known flavonoid pigments. Plants expressing the transposable element activator (Ac) produced variegated flowers in which the background tissue was lighter in intensity than the sectors. Depending on the genetic background in which the transposable element is expressed, progeny with darker sectors that were also redder in color than the background tissue could also be obtained. The anthocyanin and copigment composition was the same for both of the differently colored sectors and background tissue, while the pH was lower by 0.4 unit in the redder sectors. It was suggested that the Ph6 gene might be a regulatory gene that controls the expression of the pH and anthocyanin concentration.
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