Berries of sea buckthorn, known as the "king of vitamin C," are abundant in antioxidants, have attractive colors, and are an excellent material with which to study the relationships between berry color, antioxidants, and berry quality. No study has yet determined the molecular basis of the relationship between sea buckhorn berries and their color and antioxidant levels. By using RNA-seq, liquid chromatography–MS/MS, and liquid chromatography/GC-MS technology and selecting red (darkest colored) and yellow (lightest colored) sea buckthorn berries at different development stages, this study showed that the red and yellow berry resulted from a higher ratio of lycopene to β-carotene and of β-carotene to lycopene content, respectively. The uronic acid pathway—a known animal pathway—in ascorbic acid synthesis was found in sea buckthorn berries, and the higher expression of UDP-glucuronosyltransferase in red berries was consistent with the higher content of ascorbic acid. In summary, multiomic data showed that the color of sea buckthorn berries is mainly determined by β-carotene and lycopene; red sea buckthorn berries were richer than yellow berries in antioxidants, such as carotenoids, flavonoids, and ascorbic acid; and the animal pathway might be operating in sea buckthorn.—He, C., Zhang, G., Zhang, J., Zeng, Y., Liu, J. Integrated analysis of multiomic data reveals the role of the antioxidant network in the quality of sea buckthorn berry.
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