Metabolome Profiling Supports the Key Role of the Spike in Wheat Yield Performance

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Vergara-Diaz, Omar
Vatter, Thomas
Vicente, Rubén
Obata, Toshihiro
Nieto-Taladriz, María Teresa
Aparicio, Nieves
Kefauver, Shawn C.
Fernie, Alisdair
Araus Ortega, José Luis
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cc-by (c) Vergara-Diaz, Omar et al., 2020
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Although the relevance of spike bracts in stress acclimation and contribution to wheat yield was recently revealed, the metabolome of this organ and its response to water stress is still unknown. The metabolite profiles of flag leaves, glumes and lemmas were characterized under contrasting field water regimes in five durum wheat cultivars. Water conditions during growth were characterized through spectral vegetation indices, canopy temperature and isotope composition. Spike bracts exhibited better coordination of carbon and nitrogen metabolisms than the flag leaves in terms of photorespiration, nitrogen assimilation and respiration paths. This coordination facilitated an accumulation of organic and amino acids in spike bracts, especially under water stress. The metabolomic response to water stress also involved an accumulation of antioxidant and drought tolerance related sugars, particularly in the spikes. Furthermore, certain cell wall, respiratory and protective metabolites were associated with genotypic outperformance and yield stability. In addition, grain yield was strongly predicted by leaf and spike bracts metabolomes independently. This study supports the role of the spike as a key organ during wheat grain filling, particularly under stress conditions and provides relevant information to explore new ways to improve wheat productivity including potential biomarkers for yield prediction.
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Cells, 2020, vol. 9, núm. 4, p. 1025