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Journal of Integrative Agriculture  2022, Vol. 21 Issue (3): 862-877    DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(21)63785-1
Special Issue: 食品科学合辑Food Science
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Transcriptome and phytochemical analyses reveal roles of characteristic metabolites in the taste formation of white tea during withering process
ZHOU Cheng-zhe1,2,3, ZHU Chen1,2,3, LI Xiao-zhen1,3, CHEN Lan1,3, XIE Si-yi1,3, CHEN Guang-wu1,3, ZHANG Huan1, LAI Zhong-xiong1,2, LIN Yu-ling1,2, GUO Yu-qiong1,3
1 College of Horticulture, Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, Fuzhou, 350002, P.R. China
2 Institute of Horticultural Biotechnology, Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, Fuzhou, 350002, P.R. China
3 Key Laboratory of Tea Science of Fujian Province/Tea Industry Research Institute, Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, Fuzhou, 350002, P.R. China
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萎凋是赋予白茶醇和、鲜爽及甘甜滋味的一道不可或缺的加工工序。本文旨在明确白茶萎凋过程中主要代谢物的变化规律,并阐明调控白茶特有风味形成的关键差异表达基因(DEGs)。生化成分分析结果表明,萎凋过程中,总儿茶素和淀粉含量持续下降,而茶黄素、γ-氨基丁酸(GABA)、麦芽糖和可溶性糖的含量显著增加。同时,α-淀粉酶(AMY)、β-淀粉酶(BAM)、总淀粉酶和谷氨酸脱羧酶(GAD)活性的升高可能与GABA和麦芽糖的积累有关。转录组测序结果表明与0 h样品(鲜叶)相比,萎凋12 h、24 h、36 h和48 h分别检测到9707、15921、17353和17538个DEGs。儿茶素生物合成相关基因的转录水平显著降低,而儿茶素氧化相关基因的转录水平显著升高,可能与儿茶素含量降低而茶黄素含量增加有关。参与GABA生物合成的DEGs显着上调,SPMS的下调可以减少将亚精胺转化为GABA的竞争。AMY和BAM基因的上调可引发淀粉降解,进而导致可溶性糖含量增加。研究结果为进一步了解萎凋工序对白茶特征风味形成的重要性提供了新的见解。

Abstract  In the postharvest processing of tea leaves, withering is the first indispensable manufacturing process which produces the mellow, umami and sweet taste of white tea.  In this study, we aimed to determine the dynamic changes of the main metabolites and clarify the key differentially expressed genes (DEGs) involved in forming the characteristic taste of white tea during withering.  Phytochemical analyses revealed that the contents of total catechins and starch decreased continuously, whereas the contents of theaflavin, γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), maltose, and soluble sugars increased significantly during withering (from 0–48 h).  Meanwhile, the elevation of α-amylase (AMY), β-amylase (BAM), total amylase, and glutamate decarboxylase (GAD) activities may be correlated with the accumulation of GABA and maltose.  By transcriptome sequencing, we detected 9 707, 15 921, 17 353, and 17 538 DEGs at 12, 24, 36, and 48 h of the withering process, respectively, compared with 0 h sample (fresh leaves).  The transcript levels of most of the DEGs involved in catechin biosynthesis were significantly inhibited, whereas those involved in catechin oxidation were significantly up-regulated, which could be correlated to a decrease in catechin content and an increase in theaflavin content.  The DEGs involved in GABA biosynthesis were considerably up-regulated, and the down-regulation of SPMS could reduce the competition for converting spermidine to GABA.  The up-regulation of the AMY and BAM genes could trigger starch degradation, resulting in the increase of soluble sugar content.  These results provide new insights into the importance of the withering process to the characteristic taste of white tea.
Keywords:  white tea        withering        transcriptome analysis        phytochemical analysis  
Received: 27 November 2020   Accepted: 11 July 2021
Fund: This study was supported by the China Agriculture Research System of MOF and MARA (CARS-19), the Scientific Research Foundation of Graduate School of Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, China (102–1122YS010), the Rural Revitalization Tea Industry Technical Service Project of Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, China (11899170145), the “Double First-class” Scientific and Technological Innovation Capacity and Enhancement Cultivation Plan of Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, China (KSYLP004), 6.18 Tea Industry Technology Branch of Collaborative Innovation Institute, China (K1520001A), the Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University Construction Project for Technological Innovation and Service System of Tea Industry Chain, China (K1520005A01), the Construction of Plateau Discipline of Fujian Province, China (102/71201801101), the Biochemical Analysis and Biological Study of Tea Plant Germplasm Resources of Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, China (K1518023A), and the Innovation Training Program for College Students of Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, China (102–111ZC20061). 
About author:  ZHOU Cheng-zhe, E-mail:; Correspondence GUO Yu-qiong, E-mail:

Cite this article: 

ZHOU Cheng-zhe, ZHU Chen, LI Xiao-zhen, CHEN Lan, XIE Si-yi, CHEN Guang-wu, ZHANG Huan, LAI Zhong-xiong, LIN Yu-ling, GUO Yu-qiong. 2022. Transcriptome and phytochemical analyses reveal roles of characteristic metabolites in the taste formation of white tea during withering process. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 21(3): 862-877.

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