Identification of a methyltransferase catalyzing the final step of methyl anthranilate synthesis in cultivated strawberry

Methyl anthranilate (MA) is a volatile chemical that contributes to the aroma of strawberry (Fragaria spp.), but several modern varieties do not produce this chemical. Pillet et al. tried to identify the biosynthetic pathway of MA. They compared transcriptomes between MA-producing and non-producing varieties and identified five candidate genes, one of which was predicted to encode a methyltransferase. Using an RNAi approach in agroinfiltrated strawberry fruit, they showed that suppressing expression of this gene (which they named FanAAMT for ANTHRANILIC ACID METHYL TRANSFERASE) leads to decreased MA accumulation. E. coli cultures  expressing the FanAAMT transcript and provided with antranilic acid produce MA, again supporting the role of FanAAMT in MA production. This study will help  in efforts to introduce MA production into modern strawberry varieties. (Summary by Arif Ashraf) BMC Plant Biol.  10.1186/s12870-017-1088-1