Light affects ascorbate content and ascorbate-related gene expression in tomato leaves more than in fruits

Planta. 2012 Jan;235(1):153-63. doi: 10.1007/s00425-011-1493-x. Epub 2011 Aug 23.


Little is known about the light regulation of vitamin C synthesis in fruits. In contrast, previous studies in leaves revealed that VTC2 (coding for GDP-L: -galactose phosphorylase) was one of the key genes up-regulated by light in leaves. Our objective was to determine how the expression of ascorbate (AsA) synthesis genes in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) was modified according to light irradiance in both leaves and fruits. Seven days of shading strongly decreased total ascorbate (reduced and oxidized form) content in leaves (50%) and to a lesser extent in fruits (10%). Among the last six steps of AsA biosynthesis, only two genes, VTC2 and GPP1 (one of the two unigenes coding for L: -galactose-1-P phosphatase in tomato), were down-regulated by long-term shading in red ripe fruits, compared to seven genes regulated in leaves. This underlines that light affects AsA-related gene expression more in leaves than in ripening fruits. Moreover, this study reveals strong daily changes in transcript levels of enzymes of the AsA biosynthetic pathway in leaves (11 of the 12 studied genes showed significant changes in their expression pattern). Among those genes, we found that diurnal variation in transcript levels of VTC2 and GME1 correlated to leaf AsA content measured 8 h later. This study provides a new hypothesis on the role of GME1 in addition to VTC2 in light-regulated AsA biosynthesis.

MeSH terms

  • Ascorbic Acid / biosynthesis
  • Ascorbic Acid / genetics
  • Ascorbic Acid / metabolism*
  • Fruit / chemistry
  • Fruit / genetics
  • Fruit / metabolism
  • Fruit / radiation effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / radiation effects*
  • Genes, Plant
  • Light*
  • Lycopersicon esculentum / genetics
  • Lycopersicon esculentum / metabolism
  • Lycopersicon esculentum / radiation effects*
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry
  • Plant Leaves / genetics
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism
  • Plant Leaves / radiation effects


  • Ascorbic Acid