Complex evolution of novel red floral color in Petunia

Berardi, Andrea E.; Esfeld, Korinna; Jäggi, Lea; Mandel, Therese; Cannarozzi, Gina M.; Kuhlemeier, Cris (2021). Complex evolution of novel red floral color in Petunia. The Plant Cell, 33(7), pp. 2273-2295. American Society of Plant Biologists 10.1093/plcell/koab114

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Red flower color has arisen multiple times and is generally associated with hummingbird pollination. The majority of evolutionary transitions to red color proceeded from purple lineages and tend to be genetically simple, almost always involving a few loss-of-function mutations of major phenotypic effect. Here we report on the complex evolution of a novel red floral color in the hummingbird-pollinated Petunia exserta (Solanaceae) from a colorless ancestor. The presence of a red color is remarkable because the genus cannot synthesize red anthocyanins and P. exserta retains a nonfunctional copy of the key MYB transcription factor AN2. We show that moderate up-regulation and a shift in tissue specificity of an AN2 paralog, DEEP PURPLE (DPL), restores anthocyanin biosynthesis in P. exserta. An essential shift in anthocyanin hydroxylation occurred through re-balancing the expression of three hydroxylating genes. Furthermore, the down-regulation of an acyltransferase promotes reddish hues in typically purple pigments by preventing acyl group decoration of anthocyanins. This study presents a rare case of a genetically complex evolutionary transition towards the gain of a novel red color.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Plant Development
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)

UniBE Contributor:

Berardi, Andrea Elise, Esfeld, Korinna, Jäggi, Lea Valentina, Mandel, Therese, Cannarozzi, Gina Michelle, Kuhlemeier, Cris


500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)




American Society of Plant Biologists




Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

26 Apr 2021 09:27

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:50

Publisher DOI:





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