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Quantitative trait loci mapping of polyphenol metabolites in blackcurrant (Ribes nigrum L.)

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Commercially, blackcurrants (Ribes nigrum L.) are grown mainly for processing, especially for juice production. They are valued for their high levels of polyphenols, especially anthocyanins, which contribute to their characteristic deep colour, but also as a good source of vitamin C. Recently, evidence has accrued that polyphenols, such as anthocyanins, may have specific human health benefits.


The aims of this study were to investigate the genetic control of polyphenols and other key juice processing traits in blackcurrants.


The levels, over 2 years, of vitamin C, citrate, malate, succinate, total organic acids, total anthocyanins and total phenolics together with 46 mainly polyphenol metabolites were measured in a blackcurrant biparental mapping population. Quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for these traits were mapped onto a high-density SNP linkage map.


At least one QTL was detected for each trait, with good consistency between the 2 years. Clusters of QTLs were found on each of the eight linkage groups (LG). For example, QTLs for the major anthocyanidin glucosides, delphinidin-3-O-glucoside and cyanidin-3-O-glucoside, co-localised with a QTL for total anthocyanin content on LG3 whereas the major anthocyanidin rutinosides, delphinidin-3-O-rutinoside and cyanidin-3-O-rutinoside, had QTLs on LG1 and LG2. Many of the QTLs explained a high proportion of the trait variation, with the most significant region, on LG3 at ~ 35 cM, explaining more than 60% of the variation in the coumaroylated metabolites, Cyanidin-coumaroyl-glucose, Delphinidin-coumaroyl-glucose, Kaempferol-coumaroyl-glucose and Myricetin-coumaroyl-glucose.


The identification of robust QTLs for key polyphenol classes and individual polyphenols in blackcurrant provides great potential for marker-assisted breeding for improved levels of key components.

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We acknowledge funding for this research from the Scottish Government Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services Division (RESAS).

Author information

All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Material preparation, data collection and analysis were performed by EK and IA. QTL mapping and associated statistical analysis was carried out by CH. The first draft of the manuscript was written by GMcD and CH. All authors commented on various versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Correspondence to Gordon J. McDougall.

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Abreu, I.N., Brennan, R.M., Kanichukattu, E.N. et al. Quantitative trait loci mapping of polyphenol metabolites in blackcurrant (Ribes nigrum L.). Metabolomics 16, 25 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11306-020-1647-6

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  • Blackcurrant
  • QTL
  • Polyphenols
  • Anthocyanins
  • Flavonols