Jasmonates (JAs) are plant-specific key signaling molecules that respond to various stimuli and are involved in the synthesis of secondary metabolites. However, little is known about the JA signal pathway, especially in economically significant medicinal plants. To determine the functions of novel genes that participate in the JA-mediated accumulation of secondary metabolites, we examined the metabolomic and transcriptomic signatures from Salvia miltiorrhiza. For the metabolome, 35 representative metabolites showing significant changes in rates of accumulation were extracted and identified. We also screened out 2131 differentially expressed unigenes, of which 30 were involeved in the phenolic secondary metabolic pathway, while 25 were in the JA biosynthesis and signal pathways. Among several MeJA-induced novel genes, SmJAZ8 was selected for detailed functional analysis. Transgenic plants over-expressing SmJAZ8 exhibited a JA-insensitive phenotype, suggesting that the gene is a transcriptional regulator in the JA signal pathway of S. miltiorrhiza. Furthermore, this transgenic tool revealed that JAZ genes have novel function in the constitutive accumulation of secondary metabolites. Based on these findings, we propose that the combined strategy of transcriptomic and metabolomic analyses is valuable for efficient discovery of novel genes in plants.
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