Background: Lipoxygenases (LOXs), a type of non-haem iron-containing dioxygenase, are ubiquitous enzymes in plants and participate in the formation of fruit aroma which is a very important aspect of fruit quality. Amongst the various aroma volatiles, saturated and unsaturated alcohols and aldehydes provide the characteristic aroma of the fruit. These compounds are formed from unsaturated fatty acids through oxidation, pyrolysis and reduction steps. This biosynthetic pathway involves at least four enzymes, including LOX, the enzyme responsible for lipid oxidation. Although some studies have been conducted on the LOX gene family in several species including Arabidopsis, soybean, cucumber and apple, there is no information from pear; and the evolutionary history of this gene family in the Rosaceae is still not resolved.
Results: In this study we identified 107 LOX homologous genes from five Rosaceous species (Pyrus bretschneideri, Malus × domestica, Fragaria vesca, Prunus mume and Prunus persica); 23 of these sequences were from pear. By using structure analysis, phylogenic analysis and collinearity analysis, we identified variation in gene structure and revealed the phylogenetic evolutionary relationship of this gene family. Expression of certain pear LOX genes during fruit development was verified by analysis of transcriptome data.
Conclusions: 23 LOX genes were identified in pear and these genes were found to have undergone a duplication 30-45 MYA; most of these 23 genes are functional. Specific gene duplication was found on chromosome4 in the pear genome. Useful information was provided for future research on the evolutionary history and transgenic research on LOX genes.