Establishment of pomegranate (Punica granatum) hairy root cultures for genetic interrogation of the hydrolyzable tannin biosynthetic pathway

Nadia N. Ono, Pradeepa C G Bandaranayake, Li Tian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Scopus citations


In contrast to the numerous reports on the human therapeutic applications of hydrolyzable tannins (HTs), genes involved in their biosynthesis have not been identified at the molecular level from any plant species. Although we have previously identified candidate HT biosynthetic genes in pomegranate using transcriptomic and bioinformatic analyses, characterization of in planta enzyme function remains a critical step in biochemical pathway elucidation. We here report the establishment of a pomegranate (Punica granatum) hairy root culture system that produces HTs. Agrobacterium rhizogenes strains transformed with a binary vector harboring a yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) gene were used for hairy root induction, allowing visual, non-destructive, detection of transgene incorporation. It also demonstrated that the pomegranate hairy root culture system is suitable for expressing heterologous genes (YFP in this case). Expression of 26 putative UDP-glycosyltransferase (UGT) genes, obtained from a pomegranate fruit peel (a tissue highly abundant in HTs) RNA-Seq library, were verified in wild type and hairy roots. In addition, two candidate UGTs for HT biosynthesis were identified based on HPLC and differential gene expression analyses of various pomegranate tissues. Together with in vitro enzyme activity assays, the hairy root culture system holds great promise for revealing the undivulged HT biosynthetic pathway using pomegranate as a model system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)931-941
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2012



  • Agrobacterium rhizogenes
  • Hairy root
  • Hydrolyzable tannin
  • Punica granatum
  • Punicalagin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science
  • Genetics

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