The expanded outer seed coat and the rigid inner seed coat of pomegranate seeds, both affect the sensory qualities of the fruit and its acceptability to consumers. Pomegranate seeds are also an appealing model for the study of seed coat differentiation and development. We conducted nontarget metabolic profiling to detect metabolites that contribute to the morphological differentiation of the seed coats along with transcriptomic profiling to unravel the genetic mechanisms underlying this process. Comparisons of metabolites in the lignin biosynthetic pathway accumulating in seed coat layers at different developmental stages revealed that monolignols, including coniferyl alcohol and sinapyl alcohol, greatly accumulated in inner seed coats and monolignol glucosides greatly accumulated in outer seed coats. Strong expression of genes involved in monolignol biosynthesis and transport might explain the spatial patterns of biosynthesis and accumulation of these metabolites. Hemicellulose constituents and flavonoids in particular accumulated in the inner seed coat, and candidate genes that might be involved in their accumulation were also identified. Genes encoding transcription factors regulating monolignol, cellulose, and hemicellulose metabolism were chosen by coexpression analysis. These results provide insights into metabolic factors influencing seed coat differentiation and a reference for studying seed coat developmental biology and pomegranate genetic improvement.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Plant Science