The use of metabolome analysis to identify the cause of an unexplained disease of Japanese gentians (Gentiana triflora)
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Gentian spotted bleaching disease (GSBD), a novel disease of unknown etiology, affects Gentiana triflora plants that are cultivated as ornamental flowers in Japan. This disease leads to the production of necrotic leaf spots, a delay in flowering, and has thus become a serious problem for gentian production.
The objective of this study was to identify the cause of GSBD in G. triflora by analyzing differences between healthy and GSBD-affected leaves.
Selected metabolite concentrations in healthy and GSBD-affected leaves were quantified using capillary electrophoresis and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, and statistically significant differences in metabolite concentrations were assessed. GSBD-affected metabolic pathways were identified followed by examination of pathway-related gene expression and enzyme activities. Furthermore, the effects of root hypoxia on metabolite concentrations and gene expression were investigated.
We found that concentrations of Calvin cycle intermediates and ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (RubisCO) activity were significantly lower in GSBD-affected leaves, whereas sucrose cleavage and Ala accumulation were enhanced. Since these metabolic changes are frequently observed in plants exposed to hypoxia, the expression of hypoxia-responsive genes was investigated. Expression levels of hypoxia-responsive genes were higher in GSBD-affected plants than in the controls. Furthermore, root hypoxia induced similar symptoms and metabolic changes as those observed in GSBD-affected plants.
Our results indicate that GSBD was likely induced by root hypoxia and that metabolome analysis is an effective tool for identifying the cause of plant disease with unknown etiologies.
KeywordsGentiana triflora Hypoxia Mass spectrometry Physiological disorder Targeted metabolome analysis
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