Biochemical Basis of Floral Color Polymorphism in a Heterocyanic Population of Trillium Sessile

A study of flavonoids occurring within a heterocyanic population of Trillium sessile was made to determine the chemical basis of a common floral color polymorphism in this species. In the study population, three floral color phenotypes (red, pink, yellow) are determined primarily by the presence or absence of anthocyanin compounds in the petal tissue, and secondarily by quantitative differences in the concentration of several flavonol glycosides. Petals of red phenotypes contain both cyanidin 3-arabinoside and 3-diarabinoside, petals of pink phenotypes contain only cyanidin 3-arabinoside, and petals of yellow phenotypes lack cyanidin entirely. Quercetin 3-0-glucoside, quercetin 3-0-arabinoglucoside, quercetin 3-0-arabinogalactoside, and quercetin 3-0-arabinogalactosyl, 7-0-glucoside occur in petals of all three phenotypes but differ in relative amounts. Petals of the red phenotype have mostly 3-0-biosides, but lesser amounts of both quercetin 3-0-glucoside and the 3,7-0-triglycoside. Petals of the pink phenotype contain relatively equal amounts of quercetin mono-, di-, and triglycosides. Petals of the yellow phenotypes contain mostly quercetin 3,7-0-triglycosides, and less mono- and di-glycosides. Small amounts of a quercetin tetraglycoside were detected in petals of both yellow and pink phenotypes, but not in red phenotypes. The enhancement of quercetin polyglycoside biosynthesis in yellow petal phenotypes is attributed to the shunting of dihydroflavonol precursors to synthesis of quercetin compounds when their conversion to anthocyanins is blocked genetically.