Cloning of the papaya chromoplast-specific lycopene beta-cyclase, CpCYC-b, controlling fruit flesh color reveals conserved microsynteny and a recombination hot spot. Academic Article uri icon


  • Carotenoid pigments in fruits are indicative of the ripening process and potential nutritional value. Papaya (Carica papaya) fruit flesh color is caused by the accumulation of lycopene or beta-carotenoids in chromoplasts. It is a distinct feature affecting nutritional composition, fruit quality, shelf life, and consumer preference. To uncover the molecular basis of papaya flesh color, we took map-based cloning and candidate gene approaches using integrated genetic and physical maps. A DNA marker tightly linked to flesh color colocalized on a contig of the physical map with a cDNA probe of the tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) chromoplast-specific lycopene beta-cyclase, CYC-b. Candidate gene sequences were obtained from amplified fragments and verified by sequencing two bacterial artificial chromosomes containing the two alleles. Sequence comparison revealed a 2-bp insertion in the coding region of the recessive red flesh allele resulting in a frame-shift mutation and a premature stop codon. A color complementation test in bacteria confirmed that the papaya CpCYC-b is the gene controlling fruit flesh color. Sequence analysis of wild and cultivated papaya accessions showed the presence of this frame-shift mutation in all red flesh accessions examined. Evaluation of DNA markers near CpCYC-b revealed a recombination hot spot, showing that CpCYC-b is located in a gene-rich region with a recombination rate at 3.7 kb per centimorgan, more than 100-fold higher than the genome average at 400 kb per centimorgan. Conserved microsynteny of the CpCYC-b region is indicated by colinearity of two to four genes between papaya, Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana), grape (Vitis vinifera), and tomato. Our results enhanced our understanding of papaya flesh color inheritance and generated new tools for papaya improvement.

published proceedings

  • Plant Physiol

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Blas, A. L., Ming, R., Liu, Z., Veatch, O. J., Paull, R. E., Moore, P. H., & Yu, Q.

citation count

  • 79

complete list of authors

  • Blas, Andrea L||Ming, Ray||Liu, Zhiyong||Veatch, Olivia J||Paull, Robert E||Moore, Paul H||Yu, Qingyi

publication date

  • April 2010