Genetic mapping of semi-polar metabolites in pepper fruits (Capsicum sp.): towards unravelling the molecular regulation of flavonoid quantitative trait loci

Abstract. Untargeted LCMS profiling of semi-polar metabolites followed by metabolite quantitative trait locus (mQTL) analysis was performed in ripe pepper fruits of 113 F2 plants derived from a cross between Capsicum annuum AC1979 (no. 19) and Capsicum chinense No. 4661 Selection (no. 18). The parental accessions were selected based on their variation in fruit morphological characteristics and fruit content of some target phytonutrients. Clear segregation of fruit colour and fruit metabolite profiles was observed in the F2 population. The F2 plants formed three clusters based on their metabolite profiles. Of the total of 542 metabolites, 52 could be annotated, including a range of flavonoids, such as flavone C-glycosides, flavonol O-glycosides and naringenin chalcone, as well as several phenylpropanoids, a capsaicin analogue, fatty acid derivatives and amino acid derivatives. Interval mapping revealed 279 mQTLs in total. Two mQTL hotspots were found on chromosome 9. These two chromosomal regions regulated the relative levels of 35 and 103 metabolites, respectively. Analysis also revealed an mQTL for a capsaicin analogue, located on chromosome 7. Confirmation of flavonoid mQTLs using a set of six flavonoid candidate gene markers and their corresponding expression data (expression QTLs) indicated the Ca-MYB12 transcription factor gene on chromosome 1 and the gene encoding flavone synthase (FS-2) on chromosome 6 as likely causative genes determining the variation in naringenin chalcone and flavone C-glycosides, respectively, in this population.

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