Colored wheat has always been a popular research area because of its high performance in the field and significant medical uses. Progress has been made mapping the genes of purple or blue grains; however, the reason why different grain colors form in wheat is not well understood. We created wheat lines with different grain colors (purple and blue) using the white grain cultivar Xiaoyan22 and located the candidate region related to the purple and blue grains in chromosome 2A, 2B, and 4D, 2A, respectively, by the bulked segregant RNA-seq. The transcriptomic and metabolomic analyses of the three grains at different developmental stages indicated that the upregulation of flavonoid 3'-hydroxylase/flavonoid 3',5'hydroxylase 2 and TaMYC1/TaMYC4 was important for the formation of purple/blue grains. The blue TaMYC4 had 16 nonsynonymous single nucleotide variants verified by Sanger sequencing and possessed a different splicing mode in the bHLH_MYC_N domain compared with the reference database. Targeted high-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry/mass spectrometry analysis of anthocyanins found that the purple and blue grains contained more pelargonidin, cyanidin, and delphinidin, respectively. This study provides a comprehensive understanding of the different color formations of wheat grains and useful information about genetic improvements in wheat and other crops.
Keywords: BSR-seq; F3′5′H; F3′H; MYCs; anthocyanins; metabolomics; transcriptomes; wheat grain color.