, Volume 256, Issue 1, pp 249–260 | Cite as

Transcript profiling of carotenoid/apocarotenoid biosynthesis genes during corm development of saffron (Crocus sativus L.)

  • Munish Sharma
  • Sanjana Kaul
  • Manoj Kumar DharEmail author
Original Article


The dried stigmas of saffron constitute the world’s costliest spice. Saffron has many therapeutic applications due to the presence of apocarotenoids. The latter are synthesized at different stages of development, and the biosynthetic pathway involves several genes encoding different enzymes. In order to understand the differential expression of various genes of the pathway, eight distinct developmental stages (S1-early to S8-late) were identified. The corms were assorted into three groups (I, II, and III) based on corm weight. Expression profiles of 12 carotenoid/apocarotenoid genes were studied. The expression of all genes was minimum/least in groups I and II corms during bud development. Lowest expression of carotenogenic genes (CsPSY, CsPDS, CsZDS, CsCRTISO, CsLYC-β1, CsLYC-ε, CsBCH2, and CsNCED) was observed during early stages (S1–S3) of corm growth (dormant period). In group III corms, increased expression of apocarotenoid genes (CsZCO, CsCCD2, CsUGT, and CsALDH) was observed during S4 to S8 stages (reproductive period, floral differentiation). Besides, expression profiles of genes in apical and axillary buds were also examined. Of all the genes studied, apocarotenoid biosynthesis genes (CsBCH2, CsZCO, CsCCD2, CsALDH, and CsUGT) were found to be upregulated in apical bud than in the axillary bud. The results indicated that interaction of phytohormones and sugars, mother corm reserves and the influence of internal and external factors may be contributing to the growth of saffron corm/bud. The study has laid a foundation for further research on the molecular mechanisms underlying bud dormancy/growth in saffron.


Apocarotenoids Biosynthetic pathway Bud development Crocus sativus Real-time PCR 



The authors are thankful to Coordinator Bioinformatics Centre, School of Biotechnology , University of Jammu. The authors would also like to acknowledge Prof. Nikhil Churungoo, NEHU India  for his valuable suggestions.

Funding information

This work was supported by grants received from the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India, under Saffron Network programme (BT/PR5397/PBD/16/974/2012 and BT/PR5409/PBD/16/977/2012 from 2013 to 2018).

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical compliance

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

709_2018_1296_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1.2 mb)
ESM 1 (PDF 1218 kb)


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Genome Research Laboratory, School of BiotechnologyUniversity of JammuJammuIndia

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