Heat stress threatens agriculture worldwide. Plants acquire heat stress tolerance through priming, which establishes stress memory during mild or severe transient heat stress. Such induced thermotolerance restructures metabolic networks and helps maintain metabolic homeostasis under heat stress. Here, we used an electrospray ionization mass spectrometry-based platform to explore the composition and dynamics of the metabolome of Arabidopsis thaliana under heat stress and identify metabolites involved in thermopriming. Primed plants performed better than non-primed plants under severe heat stress due to altered energy pathways and increased production of branched-chain amino acids, raffinose family oligosaccharides (RFOs), lipolysis products, and tocopherols. These metabolites serve as osmolytes, antioxidants and growth precursors to help plants recover from heat stress, while lipid metabolites help protect membranes against heat stress. The carbohydrate (e.g., sucrose and RFOs) and lipid superpathway metabolites showed the most significant increases. Under heat stress, there appears to be crosstalk between carbohydrate metabolism (i.e., the thermomemory metabolites stachyose, galactinol, and raffinose) and tyrosine metabolism towards the production of the thermomemory metabolite salidroside, a phenylethanoid glycoside. Crosstalk occurs between two glycerophospholipid pathways (the biosynthetic pathways of the thermomemory metabolite S-adenosyl-L-homocysteine and the terpenoid backbone) and the δ-tocopherol (chloroplast lipid) pathway, which favors the production of glycine betaine and other essential tocopherols, respectively, compounds which are essential for abiotic stress tolerance in plants. Therefore, metabolomic analysis can provide comprehensive insights into the metabolites involved in stress responses, which could facilitate plant breeding to maximize crop yields under adverse conditions.
Bibliographical noteKAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: We would like to thank members of the laboratory for genome engineering and synthetic biology at KAUST for their helpful discussions.