Metabolic effect of drought stress on the leaves of young oil palm

The expansion of the oil palm in marginal areas can face challenges, such as water deficit, leading to an impact on palm oil production. A better understanding of the biological consequences of abiotic stresses on this crop can result from joint metabolic profiling and multivariate analysis. Metabolic profiling of leaves was performed from control and stressed plants (7 and 14 days of stress). Samples were extracted and analyzed on a UHPLC-ESI-Q-TOF-HRMS system. Acquired data were processed using XCMS Online and MetaboAnalyst for multivariate and pathway activity analysis. Metabolism was affected by drought stress through clear segregation between control and stressed groups.

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Fig: Total ion chromatogram (TIC) of representative samples after use of “dissect” algorithm. (A) Drought stress sample using UHPLC–ESI(−)–MS. (B) Control sample using UHPLC–ESI(−)–MS. (C) Drought stress sample using UHPLC–ESI(+)–MS. (D) Control sample using UHPLC−ESI(+)−MS.

More importantly, metabolism changed through time, gradually from 7 to 14 days. The pathways most affected by drought stress were: starch and sucrose metabolism, glyoxylate and dicarboxylate metabolism, alanine, aspartate and glutamate metabolism, arginine and proline metabolism, and glycine, serine and threonine metabolism. The analysis of the metabolic profile were efficient to correlate and differentiate groups of oil palm plants submitted to different levels of drought stress. Putative compounds and their affected pathways can be used in future multiomics analysis.

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