© 2016 Mhlongo, Steenkamp, Piater, Madala and Dubery. Metabolomics has developed into a valuable tool for advancing our understanding of plant metabolism. Plant innate immune defenses can be activated and enhanced so that, subsequent to being pre-sensitized, plants are able to launch a stronger and faster defense response upon exposure to pathogenic microorganisms, a phenomenon known as priming. Here, three contrasting chemical activators, namely acibenzolar-S-methyl, azelaic acid and riboflavin, were used to induce a primed sta te in Nicotiana tabacum cells. Identified biomarkers were then compared to responses induced by three phytohormones—abscisic acid, methyljasmonate, and salicylic acid. Altered metabolomes were studied using a metabolite fingerprinting approach based on liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry. Multivariate data models indicated that these inducers cause time-dependent metabolic perturbations in the cultured cells and revealed biomarkers of which the levels are affected by these agents. A total of 34 metabolites were annotated from the mass spectral data and online databases. Venn diagrams were used to identify common biomarkers as well as those unique to a specific agent. Results implicate 20 cinnamic acid derivatives conjugated to (i) quinic acid (chlorogenic acids), (ii) tyramine, (iii) polyamines, or (iv) glucose as discriminatory biomarkers of priming in tobacco cells. Functional roles for most of these metabolites in plant defense responses could thus be proposed. Metabolites induced by the activators belong to the early phenylpropanoid pathway, which indicates that different stimuli can activate similar pathways but with different metabolite fingerprints. Possible linkages to phytohormone-dependent pathways at a metabolomic level were indicated in the case of cells treated with salicylic acid and methyljasmonate. The results contribute to a better understanding of the priming phenomenon and advance our knowledge of cinnamic acid derivatives as versatile defense metabolites.
Mhlongo, M. I., Steenkamp, P. A., Piater, L. A., Madala, N. E., & Dubery, I. A. (2016). Profiling of Altered Metabolomic States in Nicotiana tabacum Cells Induced by Priming Agents. Frontiers in Plant Science, 7. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2016.01527