Metabolic differences of two constructive species in saline-alkali grassland in China

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Abstract

Background: Salinization of soil is an urgent problem that restricts agroforestry production and environmental protection. Substantial accumulation of metal ions or highly alkaline soil alters plant metabolites and may even cause plant death. To explore the differences in the response strategies between Suaeda salsa (S. salsa) and Puccinellia tenuiflora (P. tenuiflora), two main constructive species that survive in saline-alkali soil, their metabolic differences were characterized. Result: Metabolomics was conducted to study the role of metabolic differences between S. salsa and P. tenuiflora under saline-alkali stress. A total of 68 significantly different metabolites were identified by GC-MS, including 9 sugars, 13 amino acids, 8 alcohols, and 34 acids. A more detailed analysis indicated that P. tenuiflora utilizes sugars more effectively and may be saline-alkali tolerant via sugar consumption, while S. salsa utilizes mainly amino acids, alcohols, and acids to resist saline-alkali stress. Measurement of phenolic compounds showed that more C6C3C6-compounds accumulated in P. tenuiflora, while more C6C1-compounds, phenolic compounds that can be used as signalling molecules to defend against stress, accumulated in S. salsa. Conclusions: Our observations suggest that S. salsa resists the toxicity of saline-alkali stress using aboveground organs and that P. tenuiflora eliminates this toxicity via roots. S. salsa has a stronger habitat transformation ability and can provide better habitat for other plants.

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Chen, Q., Xie, H., Wei, G., Guo, X., Zhang, J., Lu, X., & Tang, Z. (2022). Metabolic differences of two constructive species in saline-alkali grassland in China. BMC Plant Biology, 22(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12870-021-03401-y

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