Biosynthesis of monoterpene scent compounds in roses

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Science  03 Jul 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6243, pp. 81-83
DOI: 10.1126/science.aab0696

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Stop to smell the roses

Some roses smell beautiful, yet others only look beautiful. Magnard et al. leveraged this distinction to study the biosynthesis of geraniol, a monoterpene alcohol in rose scent (see the Perspective by Tholl and Gershenzon). Enzymes known for geraniol synthesis in other plants, such as basil, did not seem to provide that function for roses. Instead, a diphosphohydrolase, which functions in the cytoplasm of cells in rose petals, generates the geraniol emitted by fragrant roses. Identification of the enzyme and its gene enables marker-assisted breeding to put the perfume back into beauty.

Science, this issue p. 81; see also p. 28


The scent of roses (Rosa x hybrida) is composed of hundreds of volatile molecules. Monoterpenes represent up to 70% percent of the scent content in some cultivars, such as the Papa Meilland rose. Monoterpene biosynthesis in plants relies on plastid-localized terpene synthases. Combining transcriptomic and genetic approaches, we show that the Nudix hydrolase RhNUDX1, localized in the cytoplasm, is part of a pathway for the biosynthesis of free monoterpene alcohols that contribute to fragrance in roses. The RhNUDX1 protein shows geranyl diphosphate diphosphohydrolase activity in vitro and supports geraniol biosynthesis in planta.

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