Structured plant metabolomics for the simultaneous exploration of multiple factors


Authored by  N Vasilev*, J Boccard*, G Lang, U Grömping*, R Fischer*, S Goepfert, S Rudaz*, S Schillberg*

Published in Scientific Reports    
* This author is not affiliated with PMI.

Abstract

Multiple factors act simultaneously on plants to establish complex interaction networks involving nutrients, elicitors and metabolites. Metabolomics offers a better understanding of complex biological systems, but evaluating the simultaneous impact of different parameters on metabolic pathways that have many components is a challenging task. We therefore developed a novel approach that combines experimental design, untargeted metabolic profiling based on multiple chromatography systems and ionization modes, and multiblock data analysis, facilitating the systematic analysis of metabolic changes in plants caused by different factors acting at the same time. Using this method, target geraniol compounds produced in transgenic tobacco cell cultures were grouped into clusters based on their response to different factors. We hypothesized that our novel approach may provide more robust data for process optimization in plant cell cultures producing any target secondary metabolite, based on the simultaneous exploration of multiple factors rather than varying one factor each time. The suitability of our approach was verified by confirming several previously reported examples of elicitor–metabolite crosstalk. However, unravelling all factor–metabolite networks remains challenging because it requires the identification of all biochemically significant metabolites in the metabolomics dataset.