(2011) PLoS ONE 6(8): e22098.
Natural Variation in Petal Color in Lycoris longituba Revealed by Anthocyanin Components.
He Q, Shen Y, Wang M, Huang M, Yang R, et al.

Lycoris longituba is one of the species belonging to the Amaryllidaceae family. Despite its limited distribution, endemic to central eastern China, this species displays an exceptionally wide diversity of flower colors from purple, red, orange, to yellow, in nature. We study the natural variation of floral color in L. longituba by testing the components of water-soluble vacuolar pigments — anthocyanins — in its petals using high-performance liquid chromatography coupled with photodiode array detection and electrospray ionization mass spectrometry. Four anthocyanins were identified, cyanidin-3-sophoroside (Cy3So), cyanidin-3-xylosylglucoside (Cy3XyGlc), cyanidin-3-sambubioside (Cy3Sa), and pelargonidin-3-xylosylglucoside (Pg3XyGlc), which occur at various amounts in L. longituba petals of different colors. A multivariate analysis was used to explore the relationship between pigments and flower color. Anthocyanins have been thought to play a major role in acting as a UV screen that protects the plant's DNA from sunlight damage and attracting insects for the purpose of pollination. Thus, knowledge about the content and type of anthocyanins determining the petal coloration of Lycoris longituba will help to study the adaptive evolution of flowers and provide useful information for the ornamental breeding of this species.

Figure 1. Flowers of four representative colors, purple (A), red (B), orange (C), and yellow (D), for Lycoris longituba variants sampled from a natural population.