The epidermal cells of petunia (Petunia × hybrida) flowers are the main site of volatile emission. However, the mechanisms underlying the release of volatiles into the environment are still being explored. Here, using cell-layer-specific transcriptomic analysis, reverse genetics by virus-induced gene silencing and clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR), and metabolomics, we identified EPIDERMIS VOLATILE EMISSION REGULATOR (EVER)-a petal adaxial epidermis-specific MYB activator that affects the emission of volatiles. To generate ever knockout lines, we developed a viral-based CRISPR/Cas9 system for efficient gene editing in plants. These knockout lines, together with transient-suppression assays, revealed EVER's involvement in the repression of low-vapor-pressure volatiles. Internal pools and annotated scent-related genes involved in volatile production and emission were not affected by EVER. RNA-Seq analyses of petals of ever knockout lines and EVER-overexpressing flowers revealed enrichment in wax-related biosynthesis genes. Liquid chromatography/gas chromatography-MS analyses of petal epicuticular waxes revealed substantial reductions in wax loads in ever petals, particularly of monomers of fatty acids and wax esters. These results implicate EVER in the emission of volatiles by fine-tuning the composition of petal epicuticular waxes. We reveal a petunia MYB regulator that interlinks epicuticular wax composition and volatile emission, thus unraveling a regulatory layer in the scent-emission machinery in petunia flowers.
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© American Society of Plant Biologists 2023.