Flavonols are plant produced secondary metabolites and could exert health-promoting effects in humans. To become stable and functional molecules, flavonols are firstly biosynthesized and then modified, mostly by adding sugar donors via glycosylation. Flavonoid biosynthesis derives from the phenylalanine metabolic pathway and has been well characterized in Arabidopsis thaliana.
Li et al. reveal that the maize (Zea mays) flavonol glycosyltransferse UFGT2 plays major roles in the flavonol modification, and could also help the plants to cope with abiotic stresses. It is a candidate gene for improving the grain quality and crop traits in stress tolerance. With the aggravation of environmental deterioration and the demand of people for healthy food, crops with both environmental adaptation properties and rich in nutrient compounds are worth exploring. Flavonols are the most abundant flavonoids in foods and could exert health-promoting effects.