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Cloning and characterization of a benzoic acid/salicylic acid carboxyl methyltransferase gene involved in floral scent production from lily (Lilium ‘Yelloween’)

Author(s): H. Wang, M. Sun, L.L. Li, X.H. Xie and Q.X. Zhang

In lily flowers, the volatile ester methyl benzoate is one of the major and abundant floral scent compounds; however, knowledge regarding the biosynthesis of methyl benzoate remains unknown for Lilium. In this study, we isolated a benzoic acid/salicylic acid carboxyl methyltransferase (BSMT) gene, LiBSMT, from petals of Lilium ‘Yelloween’. The gene has an open reading frame of 1083 base pairs (bp) and encodes a protein of 41.05 kDa. Sequence alignment and phylogenetic analyses of LiBSMT revealed 40-50% similarity with other known benzenoid carboxyl methyltransferases in other plant species, and revealed homology to BSMT of Oryza sativa. Heterologous expression of this gene in Escherichia coli yielded an enzyme responsible for catalyzing benzoic acid and salicylic acid to methyl benzoate and methyl salicylate, respectively.