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Metabolite profiling of the response to high-nitrogen fertilizer during grain development of bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)

Zhen, Shoumin, Zhou, Jiaxing, Deng, Xiong, Zhu, Gengrui, Cao, Hui, Wang, Zhimin, Yan, Yueming
Journal of cereal science 2016 v.69 pp. 85-94
Triticum aestivum, alcohols, amino acids, breadmaking quality, carbon, developmental stages, fertilizer application, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, grain protein, grain yield, lipids, metabolites, metabolomics, nitrogen, nitrogen fertilizers, organic acids and salts, principal component analysis, protein content, protein synthesis, seed development, starch, tricarboxylic acid cycle, wheat
Wheat yield and quality are dependent largely on nitrogen (N) availability. In this study, we performed the first metabolomic analysis of the response to high-N fertilizer during wheat grain development using non-targeted gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC–MS). Quality parameter analyses demonstrated that high-N fertilizer application led to a significant increase in grain protein content and improvement in starch and bread-making quality. Comparative metabolomic profiling of six grain developmental stages resulted in identification of 74 metabolites, including amino acids, carbohydrates, organic acids and lipids/alcohol, which are primarily involved in carbon and N metabolism. Under high-N fertilizer treatment, numerous metabolites accumulated significantly during grain development. Principal component analysis revealed two principal components as being responsible for the variances resulting from N-fertilizer treatments. Metabolite–metabolite correlation analysis demonstrated that the high-N treatment group had a greater number of positive correlations among metabolites, suggesting that high-N fertilizer treatment induced a concerted metabolic change that resulted in improved grain development. Particularly, the high-N treatment-mediated significant accumulation of metabolites involved in the TCA cycle, starch and storage protein synthesis could be responsible for the improvement of grain yield and quality. Our results provide new insight into the molecular mechanisms of wheat grain development and yield and quality.