A Comparative Study of Flavonoids and Carotenoids Revealed Metabolite Responses for Various Flower Colorations Between Nicotiana tabacum L. and Nicotiana rustica L.
Tobacco is a model plant for studying flower coloration. Flavonoids and carotenoids were reported to contribute to the flower color in many plants. We investigated the mechanism underlying flower color formation in tobacco by comparing the profiling flavonoids and carotenoids between various species Nicotiana tabacum L. and Nicotiana rustica L., as their flowers commonly presented red (pink) and yellow (orange), respectively. The metabolomes were conducted by UPLC-ESI-MS/MS system. The main findings were as follows: (1) A total of 31 flavonoids and 36 carotenoids were identified in all four cultivars involved in N. tabacum and N. rustica. (2) Flavonoids and carotenoids tended to concentrate in the red flowers (N. tabacum) and yellow flowers (N. rustica), respectively. (3) About eight flavonoids and 12 carotenoids were primarily screened out for metabolic biomarkers, such as the robust biomarker involving kaempferol-3-o-rut, quercetin-glu, rutin, lutein, and β-carotene. This is the first research of systematic metabolome involving both flavonoids and carotenoids in tobacco flower coloration. The metabolic mechanism concluded that flavonoids and carotenoids mainly contributed to red (pink) and yellow (orange) colors of the tobacco flowers, respectively. Our finding will provide essential insights into characterizing species and modifying flower color in tobacco breeding through genetic improvement or regulation of featured metabolic synthesis.