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Dryad

Switchgrass metabolomics reveals striking genotypic and developmental differences in specialized metabolic phenotypes

Cite this dataset

Li, Xingxing et al. (2023). Switchgrass metabolomics reveals striking genotypic and developmental differences in specialized metabolic phenotypes [Dataset]. Dryad. https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.m63xsj44v

Abstract

Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) is a bioenergy crop that grows productively on lands not suitable for food production and is an excellent target for low-pesticide input biomass production. We hypothesize that resistance to insect pests and microbial pathogens is influenced by low-molecular-weight compounds known as specialized metabolites. We employed untargeted liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry, quantitative gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC–MS), and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to identify differences in switchgrass ecotype metabolomes. This analysis revealed striking differences between upland and lowland switchgrass metabolomes as well as distinct developmental profiles. Terpenoid- and polyphenol-derived specialized metabolites were identified, including steroidal saponins, di- and sesqui-terpenoids, and flavonoids. The saponins are particularly abundant in switchgrass extracts and have diverse aglycone cores and sugar moieties. We report seven structurally distinct steroidal saponin classes with unique steroidal cores and glycosylated at one or two positions. Quantitative GC–MS revealed differences in total saponin concentrations in the leaf blade, leaf sheath, stem, rhizome, and root (2.3 ± 0.10, 0.5 ± 0.01, 2.5 ± 0.5, 3.0 ± 0.7, and 0.3 ± 0.01 μg/mg of dw, respectively). The quantitative data also demonstrated that saponin concentrations are higher in roots of lowland (ranging from 3.0 to 6.6 μg/mg of dw) than in upland (from 0.9 to 1.9 μg/mg of dw) ecotype plants, suggesting ecotypic-specific biosynthesis and/or biological functions. These results enable future testing of these specialized metabolites on biotic and abiotic stress tolerance and can provide information on the development of low-input bioenergy crops.

Funding

United States Department of Energy

National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Award: MICL02474

Office of Science, Award: DE-SC0018409