Metabolic responses to drought stress in the tissues of drought-tolerant and drought-sensitive wheat genotype seedlings
Guo, R.; Shi, L.; Jiao, Y.; Li, M.; Zhong, X.; Gu, F.; Liu, Q.; Xia, X.; Li, H.
Aob Plants 10(2): Ply016
An in-depth understanding of the effects of drought stress on plant metabolism is necessary to improve the drought tolerance of wheat and to utilize genetic resources for the development of drought stress-tolerant wheat varieties. In this study, the profiles of 58 key metabolites produced by wheat seedlings in response to drought stress were investigated to determine various physiological processes related to drought tolerance between drought-tolerant and drought-sensitive wheat genotypes. Results showed that the wheat metabolome was dominated by sugars, organic acids and amino acids; the wheat metabolome played important roles to enhance the drought tolerance of shoots. Under drought stress, JD17 exhibited higher growth indices and higher photosynthesis ability than JD8. A high level of compatible solutes and energy in shoots were essential for wheat to develop drought tolerance. Drought also caused system alterations in widespread metabolic networks involving transamination, tricarboxylic acid cycle, glycolysis, glutamate-mediated proline biosynthesis, shikimate-mediated secondary metabolisms and gamma-aminobutyric acid metabolisms. Long-term drought stress resulted in the drought-tolerant wheat genotype JD17, which induced metabolic shifts in the tricarboxylic acid cycle and glycolysis with the depletion of the gamma-aminobutyric acid shut process. In JD17, the prolonged drought stress induced a progressive accumulation of osmolytes, including proline, sucrose, fructose, mannose and malic acid. This research extended our understanding of the mechanisms involved in wheat seedling drought tolerance; this study also demonstrated that gas chromatography-mass spectrometry metabolomics could be an effective approach to understand the drought effects on plant biochemistry.