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Qianqian Shi, Long Li, Lin Zhou and Yan Wang

Paeonia delavayi is a species endemic to Southwest China and an important genetic resource for flower color breeding of tree peonies. The mechanisms underlying the flower coloration of this plant have not been fully elucidated. In this article, the petals of yellow-colored individual (Pl) and purple–red-colored individual (Pd) of P. delavayi were studied. And anatomical observations revealed that a large amount of yellow protoplasts and a small amount of colorless protoplasts were located in the yellow-colored Pl petals, whereas a mixture of purple, red, and pink protoplasts were observed in the purple–red-colored Pd petals. The Pl cells were subrotund and flat, whereas the Pd cells were irregularly polygon-shaped and bulging. Chemical analyses were performed, and the results indicated that significant differences occurred between the cell sap pH of the Pl and Pd flowers and large differences occurred in the contents of Fe and Al between Pl and Pd. Cyanidin- and peonidin-based anthocyanins with flavones and flavonols as copigments determined the Pd flower color, whereas chalcone 2 ′G with apigenin 7-O-neohesperidoside and chrysoeriol 7-O-glucoside as copigments determined the yellow color of Pl. Correspondingly, the genes dihydroflavonol 4-reductase (DFR) and anthocyanidin synthase (ANS) were significantly highly expressed in Pd, whereas chalcone isomerase (CHI), flavanone 3-hydroxylase (F3H), flavone synthase (FNS), flavonol synthase (FLS), flavonoid 7-O-glycosyltransferase (7GT), and 2′4′6′4-tetrahydroxychalcone 2′-glucosyltransferase (THC) had high transcript levels in Pl relative to Pd. The results indicate that the color variation of P. delavayi petals may be related to a delicately controlled balance of the aforementioned factors.

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Qianqian Shi, Xiaoxiao Zhang, Xiang Li, Lijuan Zhai, Xiaoning Luo, Jianrang Luo, Lixia He, Yanlong Zhang and Long Li

Tree peony (Paeonia sp.) is a popular traditional ornamental plant in China. Among the nine wild species, Paeonia rockii displays wide-ranging, deep purple variegation at the base of the petals, whereas Paeonia ostii exhibits purely white petals. Overall, the posttranscriptional regulation involved in tree peony flower opening and pigmentation remains unclear. To identify potential microRNAs (miRNAs) involved in flower variegation, six small RNA libraries of P. ostii and P. rockii petals at three different opening stages were constructed and sequenced. Using Illumina-based sequencing, 22 conserved miRNAs and 27 novel miRNAs were identified in P. rockii and P. ostii petals. Seventeen miRNAs were differentially expressed during flower development, and several putative target genes of these miRNAs belonged to transcription factor families, such as Myb domain (MYB), and basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factors. Furthermore, an integrative analysis of the expression profiles of miRNAs and their corresponding target genes revealed that variegation formation might be regulated by miR159c, miR168, miR396a, and novel_miR_05, which target the MYB transcription factors, chalcone synthase (CHS), and ABC transporter. Our preliminary study is the first report of miRNAs involved in Paeonia flower pigmentation. It provides insight regarding the molecular mechanisms underlying the regulation of flower pigmentation in tree peony.

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Meiling Yang, Fang Li, Hong Long, Weiwei Yu, Xiuna Yan, Bin Liu, Yunxiu Zhang, Guorong Yan and Wenqin Song

As a wild apple species native to central Asia, Malus sieversii (Ledeb.) Roem. is distributed in a wide region covering most of the Tienshan Mountains. Malus sieversii is a useful genetic pool for apple breeding since rich with diversity. In this paper, we first describe the species range of this endangered species. We then describe an in situ reserve that has been established. We also investigated some reproductive characteristics of M. sieversii including pollen germination, seed dormancy, and seed viability. Both stratification and seedcoat removal efficiently released seed dormancy and accelerated seed germination. Pollen germination rate is around 60%. Our data suggest that injurious insects and human activities, rather than reproductive characters, limit the renewal of M. sieversii.

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Long-na Li, Songjun Zeng, Feng Zheng, Zhi-lin Chen, Kun-lin Wu, Jian-xia Zhang and June Duan

Ten polymorphic microsatellite loci were isolated and characterized from an enriched genomic library of Paphiopedilum concolor (Batem.) Pfitzer. The number of alleles per microsatellite locus ranged from three to 11 with an average of 6.4 in a sample of 30 individuals from three populations. The observed and expected heterozygosity ranged from 0.200 to 0.800 and from 0.544 to 0.827, respectively. These microsatellites can be used as tools to investigate the genetic structure of P. concolor populations and relationship patterns with closely related taxa.

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Young-Hwan Shin, Rui Yang, Yun-Long Shi, Xu-Min Li, Qiu-Yue Fu, Jian-Liang Lu, Jian-Hui Ye, Kai-Rong Wang, Shi-Cheng Ma, Xin-Qiang Zheng and Yue-Rong Liang

Albino tea plants are mutants that grow albino young leaves owing to lack of chlorophylls under certain environmental conditions. There are two types of albino tea plants grown in production, i.e., light- and temperature-sensitive albino tea cultivars. The former grows albino leaves in yellow color under intensive sunlight conditions and the later grows albino leaves with white mesophyll and greenish vein as the environmental temperature is below 20 °C. Both albino teas attract great attention because of their high levels of amino acids and the “umami” taste. There have been many studies focusing on the temperature-sensitive albino tea plants, whereas little attention has been given to the light-sensitive albino tea cultivars. The characteristics of the albino tea cultivars and the mechanism underlying them were reviewed in the present article based on the published literatures, including chemical compositions, morphological characteristics, and molecular genetic mechanism.