Assessment of flux through oleoresin biosynthesis in epithelial cells of loblolly pine resin ducts

J Exp Bot. 2019 Jan 1;70(1):217-230. doi: 10.1093/jxb/ery338.


The shoot system of pines contains abundant resin ducts, which harbor oleoresins that play important roles in constitutive and inducible defenses. In a pilot study, we assessed the chemical diversity of oleoresins obtained from mature tissues of loblolly pine trees (Pinus taeda L.). Building on these data sets, we designed experiments to assess oleoresin biosynthesis in needles of 2-year-old saplings. Comparative transcriptome analyses of single cell types indicated that genes involved in the biosynthesis of oleoresins are significantly enriched in isolated epithelial cells of resin ducts, compared with those expressed in mesophyll cells. Simulations using newly developed genome-scale models of epithelial and mesophyll cells, which incorporate our data on oleoresin yield and composition as well as gene expression patterns, predicted that heterotrophic metabolism in epithelial cells involves enhanced levels of oxidative phosphorylation and fermentation (providing redox and energy equivalents). Furthermore, flux was predicted to be more evenly distributed across the metabolic network of mesophyll cells, which, in contrast to epithelial cells, do not synthesize high levels of specialized metabolites. Our findings provide novel insights into the remarkable specialization of metabolism in epithelial cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Genes, Plant
  • Pilot Projects
  • Pinus taeda / metabolism*
  • Plant Extracts / biosynthesis*
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism*
  • Transcriptome*


  • Plant Extracts
  • Plant Proteins
  • oleoresins