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In lily flowers, the volatile ester methyl benzoate is one of the major and abundant floral scent compounds; however, knowledge regarding the biosynthesis of methyl benzoate remains unknown for Lilium. In this study, we isolated a benzoic acid/salicylic acid carboxyl methyltransferase (BSMT) gene, LiBSMT, from petals of Lilium 'Yelloween'. The gene has an open reading frame of 1083 base pairs (bp) and encodes a protein of 41.05 kDa. Sequence alignment and phylogenetic analyses of LiBSMT revealed 40-50% similarity with other known benzenoid carboxyl methyltransferases in other plant species, and revealed homology to BSMT of Oryza sativa. Heterologous expression of this gene in Escherichia coli yielded an enzyme responsible for catalyzing benzoic acid and salicylic acid to methyl benzoate and methyl salicylate, respectively. Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction analysis showed that LiBSMT was preferentially expressed in petals. Moreover, the expression of LiBSMT in petals was developmentally regulated. These expression patterns correlate well with the emission of methyl benzoate. Our results indicate that LiBSMT plays an important role in floral scent methyl benzoate production and emission in lily flowers.


H Wang, M Sun, L L Li, X H Xie, Q X Zhang. Cloning and characterization of a benzoic acid/salicylic acid carboxyl methyltransferase gene involved in floral scent production from lily (Lilium 'Yelloween'). Genetics and molecular research : GMR. 2015;14(4):14510-21

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PMID: 26600510

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