Scopoletin and scopolin are important secondary metabolites produced in
plants as a defense mechanism against abiotic stresses. They belong to
coumarins, phytochemicals widely used in medical applications and cosmetics.
While coumarins scopolin and scopoletin occur in Arabidopsis thaliana roots,
nothing is known about their variation in different Arabidopsis accessions.
Anna Ihnatowicz of the University of Gdansk in Poland studied scopolin and
scopoletin content in seven Arabidopsis accessions. A quantitative trait
locus (QTL) mapping was performed and found one QTL for scopolin and five
QTLs for scopoletin accumulation. The identified QTLs explained 13.86% and
37.60% of the observed phenotypic variation between accessions in scopolin
and scopoletin content, respectively. In silico analysis of genes identified
other possible candidate genes for coumarins biosynthesis.
These show that Arabidopsis is an excellent model for studying coumarin
biosynthesis in plants. It also provides basis for fine mapping and cloning
of the genes involved in scopolin and scopoletin synthesis. The team has
also identified new loci for this biosynthetic process.