Key Genes Behind Citral Aroma Production in Cinnamon Trees Revealed

Jim Crocker
1st June, 2024

Key Genes Behind Citral Aroma Production in Cinnamon Trees Revealed

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The study focused on the essential oils of three citral-type and one non-citral type varieties of Cinnamomum bodinieri
  • Citral-type varieties had high citral content (80.63% to 86.33%), making them suitable for commercial use
  • Key genes involved in citral biosynthesis, such as CbGES and CbADH, were more active in citral-type varieties
The essential oils derived from various plant species have long been valued for their aromatic and therapeutic properties. Among these, Cinnamomum bodinieri (C. bodinieri) stands out due to its high citral content, making it a popular choice in cosmetics, biomedicine, and daily necessities. Despite its economic potential, the genetic mechanisms behind citral biosynthesis in C. bodinieri have remained largely unexplored. A recent study conducted by the Nanchang Institute of Technology aims to bridge this gap by examining the essential oils (EOs) of three citral-type (B1, B2, B3) and one non-citral type (B0) varieties of C. bodinieri[1]. The study utilized gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) to identify 43 components in the EOs, primarily composed of monoterpenes (75.8–91.84%). Notably, the citral content in the citral-type varieties ranged from 80.63% to 86.33%, underscoring their potential for commercial applications. To understand the gene-regulatory roles in citral biosynthesis, the researchers combined transcriptome and metabolite profiling analyses. They identified significant enrichment in pathways such as plant-pathogen interaction, MAPK signaling, starch and sucrose metabolism, plant hormone signal transduction, terpenoid backbone biosynthesis, and monoterpenoid biosynthesis. The gene expression linked to monoterpene content revealed that genes like geraniol synthase (CbGES), alcohol dehydrogenase (CbADH), geraniol 8-hydroxylase-like (CbCYP76B6-like), and 8-hydroxygeraniol dehydrogenase (Cb10HGO) were upregulated in the citral-type varieties. This upregulation was corroborated by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), which showed higher activities of CbGES and CbADH in citral-type varieties compared to the non-citral type. These findings provide a theoretical basis for developing essential oils from C. bodinieri, particularly those rich in citral. This study builds upon previous research that has highlighted the significant biological effects of citral. For instance, earlier studies have shown that citral exhibits strong antioxidant properties, which are significantly correlated to oxygenated monoterpenes[2]. Another study demonstrated citral's chemopreventive effects, including the inhibition of breast cancer cell growth and induction of apoptosis[3]. These findings collectively suggest that citral-rich essential oils from C. bodinieri could have multiple health benefits. Moreover, the study aligns with earlier research that identified the chemical composition and antioxidant capacity of citral-rich chemotypes in C. bodinieri[4]. The current study adds a genetic dimension to these findings, offering insights into the biosynthesis pathways that lead to high citral content. This could pave the way for breeding superior varieties of C. bodinieri, optimized for higher citral production. In summary, the study by the Nanchang Institute of Technology provides valuable insights into the genetic mechanisms behind citral biosynthesis in C. bodinieri. By identifying key genes and pathways involved in this process, the research offers a theoretical foundation for developing high-citral essential oils, which could have significant commercial and therapeutic applications. The findings also tie together previous studies on the biological effects of citral, further emphasizing its potential benefits.

GeneticsBiochemPlant Science


Main Study

1) Identification of key genes controlling monoterpene biosynthesis of Citral-type Cinnamomum bodinieri Levl. Based on transcriptome and metabolite profiling

Published 31st May, 2024

Related Studies

2) Chemical Composition and Antioxidant Activity of the Essential Oils of Citral-Rich Chemotype Cinnamomum camphora and Cinnamomum bodinieri.

3) Citral inhibits cell proliferation and induces apoptosis and cell cycle arrest in MCF-7 cells.

4) Variations in Essential Oils from the Leaves of Cinnamomum bodinieri in China.

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