Investigating the drought stress response of hybrid poplar genotypes by metabolite profiling.

Barchet, G.L.H., Dauwe, R., Guy, R.D., Schroeder, W.R., Soolanayakanahally, R.Y., Campbell, M.M., and Mansfield, G.S. (2014). "Investigating the drought stress response of hybrid poplar genotypes by metabolite profiling.", Tree Physiology, 34(11), pp. 1203-1219. doi : 10.1093/treephys/tpt080  Access to full text


Drought stress is perhaps the most commonly encountered abiotic stress plants experience in the natural environment, and it is one of the most important factors limiting plant productivity. Here, we employed untargeted metabolite profiling to examine four drought-stressed hybrid poplar (Populus spp.) genotypes for their metabolite content, using gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry. The primary objective of these analyses was to characterize the metabolite profile of poplar trees to assess relative drought resistance and to investigate the underlying biochemical mechanisms employed by the genotypes to combat drought. Metabolite profiling identified key metabolites that increased or decreased in relative abundance upon exposure to drought stress. Overall, amino acids, the antioxidant phenolic compounds catechin and kaempferol, as well as the osmolytes raffinose and galactinol exhibited increased abundance under drought stress, whereas metabolites involved in photorespiration, redox regulation and carbon fixation showed decreased abundance under drought stress. One clone in particular, Okanese, displayed unique responses to the imposed drought conditions. This clone was found to have higher leaf water potential, but lower growth rate relative to the other clones tested. Okanese also had lower accumulation of osmolytes such as raffinose, galactinol and proline, but higher overall levels of antioxidants such as catechin and dehydroascorbic acid. As such, it was proposed that osmotic adjustment as a mechanism for drought avoidance in this clone is not as well developed in comparison with the other clones investigated in this study, and that a possible alternative mechanism for the enhanced drought avoidance displayed by Okanese may be due to differential allocation of resources or better retention of water.

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