Characterization of biosynthetic pathways for the production of the volatile homoterpenes DMNT and TMTT in zea mays

Annett Richter, Claudia Schaff, Zhiwu Zhang, Alexander E. Lipka, Feng Tian, Tobias G. Köllner, Christiane Schnee, Susanne Preiß, Sandra Irmisch, Georg Jander, Willhelm Boland, Jonathan Gershenzon, Edward S. Buckler, Jörg Degenhardt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Plant volatiles not only have multiple defense functions against herbivores, fungi, and bacteria, but also have been implicated in signaling within the plant and toward other organisms. Elucidating the function of individual plant volatiles will require more knowledge of their biosynthesis and regulation in response to external stimuli. By exploiting the variation of herbivoreinduced volatiles among 26 maize (Zea mays) inbred lines, we conducted a nested association mapping and genome-wide association study (GWAS) to identify a set of quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for investigating the pathways of volatile terpene production. The most significant identified QTL affects the emission of (E)-nerolidol, linalool, and the two homoterpenes (E)-3,8-dimethyl-1,4,7-nonatriene (DMNT) and (E,E)-4,8,12-trimethyltrideca-1,3,7,11-tetraene (TMTT). GWAS associated a single nucleotide polymorphism in the promoter of the gene encoding the terpene synthase TPS2 with this QTL. Biochemical characterization of TPS2 verified that this plastid-localized enzyme forms linalool, (E)-nerolidol, and (E,E)geranyllinalool. The subsequent conversion of (E)-nerolidol into DMNT maps to a P450 monooxygenase, CYP92C5, which is capable of converting nerolidol into DMNT by oxidative degradation. A QTL influencing TMTT accumulation corresponds to a similar monooxygenase, CYP92C6, which is specific for the conversion of (E,E)-geranyllinalool to TMTT. The DMNT biosynthetic pathway and both monooxygenases are distinct from those previously characterized for DMNT and TMTT synthesis in Arabidopsis thaliana, suggesting independent evolution of these enzymatic activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2651-2665
Number of pages15
JournalPlant Cell
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology


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