4 years ago

Metabolite profiling and associated gene expression reveal two metabolic shifts during the seed-to-seedling transition in Arabidopsis thaliana

Wilco Ligterink, Anderson Tadeu Silva, Henk W. M. Hilhorst


Key message

Metabolic and transcriptomic correlation analysis identified two distinctive profiles involved in the metabolic preparation for seed germination and seedling establishment, respectively. Transcripts were identified that may control metabolic fluxes.


The transition from a quiescent metabolic state (dry seed) to the active state of a vigorous seedling is crucial in the plant’s life cycle. We analysed this complex physiological trait by measuring the changes in primary metabolism that occur during the transition in order to determine which metabolic networks are operational. The transition involves several developmental stages from seed germination to seedling establishment, i.e. between imbibition of the mature dry seed and opening of the cotyledons, the final stage of seedling establishment. We hypothesized that the advancement of growth is associated with certain signature metabolite profiles. Metabolite–metabolite correlation analysis underlined two specific profiles which appear to be involved in the metabolic preparation for seed germination and efficient seedling establishment, respectively. Metabolite profiles were also compared to transcript profiles and although transcriptional changes did not always equate to a proportional metabolic response, in depth correlation analysis identified several transcripts that may directly influence the flux through metabolic pathways during the seed-to-seedling transition. This correlation analysis also pinpointed metabolic pathways which are significant for the seed-to-seedling transition, and metabolite contents that appeared to be controlled directly by transcript abundance. This global view of the transcriptional and metabolic changes during the seed-to-seedling transition in Arabidopsis opens up new perspectives for understanding the complex regulatory mechanism underlying this transition.

Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11103-017-0665-x

DOI: 10.1007/s11103-017-0665-x

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