Variation in metabolism and partitioning of carbohydrates, particularly fructans, between annual and perennial Cichorium species remains a challenging topic. To address this problem, an annual (endive, Cichorium endive L. var. Crispum; Asteraceae) and a biennial species (chicory, Cichorium intybus L. var. Witloof; Asteraceae) were compared with in terms of variability in carbohydrate accumulation and expression patterns of fructan-active enzyme genes, as well as sucrose metabolism at various growth and developmental stages. In general, constituents such as 1-kestose, nystose, and inulin were detected only in the root of chicory and were not present in any of the endive tissues. For both species, flower tissue contained maximum levels of both fructose and glucose, while for sucrose, more fluctuations were observed. On the other hand, all the genes under study exhibited variation, not only between the two species but also among different tissues at different sampling times. In endive root compared to endive leaf, the expression of cell wall invertase genes and sucrose accumulation decreased simultaneously, indicating the limited capacity of its roots to absorb sucrose, a precursor to inulin production. In addition, low expression of fructan: fructan fructosyltransferase in endive root compared to chicory mot confirmed the inability of endive to inulin synthesis. Overall, annual and biennial species were different in the production of inulin, transport, remobilization, and unloading of sucrose.
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