, Volume 236, Issue 4, pp 959-973

Root metabolic response of rice (Oryza sativa L.) genotypes with contrasting tolerance to zinc deficiency and bicarbonate excess

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Plants are routinely subjected to multiple environmental stresses that constrain growth. Zinc (Zn) deficiency and high bicarbonate are two examples that co-occur in many soils used for rice production. Here, the utility of metabolomics in diagnosing the effect of each stress alone and in combination on rice root function is demonstrated, with potential stress tolerance indicators identified through the use of contrasting genotypes. Responses to the dual stress of combined Zn deficiency and bicarbonate excess included greater root solute leakage, reduced dry matter production, lower monosaccharide accumulation and increased concentrations of hydrogen peroxide, phenolics, peroxidase and N-rich metabolites in roots. Both hydrogen peroxide concentration and root solute leakage were correlated with higher levels of citrate, allantoin and stigmasterol. Zn stress resulted in lower levels of the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle intermediate succinate and the aromatic amino acid tyrosine. Bicarbonate stress reduced shoot iron (Fe) concentrations, which was reflected by lower Fe-dependent ascorbate peroxidase activity. Bicarbonate stress also favoured the accumulation of the TCA cycle intermediates malate, fumarate and succinate, along with the non-polar amino acid tyrosine. Genotypic differentiation revealed constitutively higher levels of d-gluconate, 2-oxoglutarate and two unidentified compounds in the Zn-efficient line RIL46 than the Zn-inefficient cultivar IR74, suggesting a possible role for these metabolites in overcoming oxidative stress or improving metal re-distribution.