The concept of metabolite profiling has been around for decades, but technical innovations are now enabling it to be carried out on a large scale with respect to the number of both metabolites measured and experiments carried out. Here we provide a detailed protocol for gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS)-based metabolite profiling that offers a good balance of sensitivity and reliability, being considerably more sensitive than NMR and more robust than liquid chromatography-linked mass spectrometry. We summarize all steps from collecting plant material and sample handling to derivatization procedures, instrumentation settings and evaluating the resultant chromatograms. We also define the contribution of GC-MS-based metabolite profiling to the fields of diagnostics, gene annotation and systems biology. Using the protocol described here facilitates routine determination of the relative levels of 300-500 analytes of polar and nonpolar extracts in approximately 400 experimental samples per week per machine.
Tomato represents an important source of fiber and nutrients in the human diet and is a central model for the study of fruit biology. To identify components of fruit metabolic composition, here we have phenotyped tomato introgression lines (ILs) containing chromosome segments of a wild species in the genetic background of a cultivated variety. Using this high-diversity population, we identify 889 quantitative fruit metabolic loci and 326 loci that modify yield-associated traits. The mapping analysis indicates that at least 50% of the metabolic loci are associated with quantitative trait loci (QTLs) that modify whole-plant yield-associated traits. We generate a cartographic network based on correlation analysis that reveals whole-plant phenotype associated and independent metabolic associations, including links with metabolites of nutritional and organoleptic importance. The results of our genomic survey illustrate the power of genome-wide metabolic profiling and detailed morphological analysis for uncovering traits with potential for crop breeding.
Marine primary productivity is iron (Fe)-limited in vast regions of the contemporary oceans, most notably the high nutrient low chlorophyll (HNLC) regions. Diatoms often form large blooms upon the relief of Fe limitation in HNLC regions despite their prebloom low cell density. Although Fe plays an important role in controlling diatom distribution, the mechanisms of Fe uptake and adaptation to low iron availability are largely unknown. Through a combination of nontargeted transcriptomic and metabolomic approaches, we have explored the biochemical strategies preferred by Phaeodactylum tricornutum at growth-limiting levels of dissolved Fe. Processes carried out by components rich in Fe, such as photosynthesis, mitochondrial electron transport, and nitrate assimilation, were down-regulated. Our results show that this retrenchment is compensated by nitrogen (N) and carbon (C) reallocation from protein and carbohydrate degradation, adaptations to chlorophyll biosynthesis and pigment metabolism, removal of excess electrons by mitochondrial alternative oxidase (AOX) and non-photochemical quenching (NPQ), and augmented Fe-independent oxidative stress responses. Iron limitation leads to the elevated expression of at least three gene clusters absent from the Thalassiosira pseudonana genome that encode for components of iron capture and uptake mechanisms.genome ͉ metabalomics ͉ photosynthesis ͉ transcriptomics ͉ nutrients
Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry based metabolite profiling of biological samples is rapidly becoming one of the cornerstones of functional genomics and systems biology. Thus, the technology needs to be available to many laboratories and open exchange of information is required such as those achieved for transcript and protein data. The key-step in metabolite profiling is the unambiguous identification of metabolites in highly complex metabolite preparations with composite structure. Collections of mass spectra, which comprise frequently observed identified and non-identified metabolites, represent the most effective means to pool the identification efforts currently performed in many laboratories around the world. Here, we describe a platform for mass spectral and retention time index libraries that will enable this process (MSRI; www.csbdb.mpimpgolm.mpg.de/gmd.html). This resource should ameliorate many of the problems that each laboratory will face both for the initial establishment of metabolome analysis and for its maintenance at a constant sample throughput.
The process of dark-induced senescence in plants is relatively poorly understood, but a functional electron-transfer flavoprotein/electron-transfer flavoprotein:ubiquinone oxidoreductase (ETF/ETFQO) complex, which supports respiration during carbon starvation, has recently been identified. Here, we studied the responses of Arabidopsis thaliana mutants deficient in the expression of isovaleryl-CoA dehydrogenase and 2-hydroxyglutarate dehydrogenase to extended darkness and other environmental stresses. Evaluations of the mutant phenotypes following carbon starvation induced by extended darkness identify similarities to those exhibited by mutants of the ETF/ETFQO complex. Metabolic profiling and isotope tracer experimentation revealed that isovaleryl-CoA dehydrogenase is involved in degradation of the branched-chain amino acids, phytol, and Lys, while 2-hydroxyglutarate dehydrogenase is involved exclusively in Lys degradation. These results suggest that isovaleryl-CoA dehydrogenase is the more critical for alternative respiration and that a series of enzymes, including 2-hydroxyglutarate dehydrogenase, plays a role in Lys degradation. Both physiological and metabolic phenotypes of the isovaleryl-CoA dehydrogenase and 2-hydroxyglutarate dehydrogenase mutants were not as severe as those observed for mutants of the ETF/ETFQO complex, indicating some functional redundancy of the enzymes within the process. Our results aid in the elucidation of the pathway of plant Lys catabolism and demonstrate that both isovaleryl-CoA dehydrogenase and 2-hydroxyglutarate dehydrogenase act as electron donors to the ubiquinol pool via an ETF/ETFQOmediated route.
Indole Acetic Acid 9 (IAA9) is a negative auxin response regulator belonging to the Aux/IAA transcription factor gene family whose downregulation triggers fruit set before pollination, thus giving rise to parthenocarpy. In situ hybridization experiments revealed that a tissue-specific gradient of IAA9 expression is established during flower development, the release of which upon pollination triggers the initiation of fruit development. Comparative transcriptome and targeted metabolome analysis uncovered important features of the molecular events underlying pollination-induced and pollination-independent fruit set. Comprehensive transcriptomic profiling identified a high number of genes common to both types of fruit set, among which only a small subset are dependent on IAA9 regulation. The fine-tuning of Aux/IAA and ARF genes and the downregulation of TAG1 and TAGL6 MADS box genes are instrumental in triggering the fruit set program. Auxin and ethylene emerged as the most active signaling hormones involved in the flower-to-fruit transition. However, while these hormones affected only a small number of transcriptional events, dramatic shifts were observed at the metabolic and developmental levels. The activation of photosynthesis and sucrose metabolism-related genes is an integral regulatory component of fruit set process. The combined results allow a far greater comprehension of the regulatory and metabolic events controlling early fruit development both in the presence and absence of pollination/fertilization.
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