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Genetic control of abiotic stress-related specialized metabolites in sunflower

  • Moroldo, Marco
  • Blanchet, Nicolas
  • Duruflé, Harold
  • Bernillon, Stéphane
  • Berton, Thierry
  • Fernandez, Olivier
  • Gibon, Yves
  • Moing, Annick
  • Langlade, Nicolas
Publication Date
Feb 20, 2024
DOI: 10.1186/s12864-024-10104-9
OAI: oai:HAL:hal-04468891v1
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Abiotic stresses in plants include all the environmental conditions that significantly reduce yields, like drought and heat. One of the most significant effects they exert at the cellular level is the accumulation of reactive oxygen species, which cause extensive damage. Plants possess two mechanisms to counter these molecules, i.e. detoxifying enzymes and non-enzymatic antioxidants, which include many classes of specialized metabolites. Sunflower, the fourth global oilseed, is considered moderately drought resistant. Abiotic stress tolerance in this crop has been studied using many approaches, but the control of specialized metabolites in this context remains poorly understood. Here, we performed the first genome-wide association study using abiotic stress-related specialized metabolites as molecular phenotypes in sunflower. After analyzing leaf specialized metabolites of 450 hybrids using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, we selected a subset of these compounds based on their association with previously known abiotic stress-related quantitative trait loci. Eventually, we characterized these molecules and their associated genes. We putatively annotated 30 compounds which co-localized with abiotic stress-related quantitative trait loci and which were associated to seven most likely candidate genes. A large proportion of these compounds were potential antioxidants, which was in agreement with the role of specialized metabolites in abiotic stresses. The seven associated most likely candidate genes, instead, mainly belonged to cytochromes P450 and glycosyltransferases, two large superfamilies which catalyze greatly diverse reactions and create a wide variety of chemical modifications. This was consistent with the high plasticity of specialized metabolism in plants. This is the first characterization of the genetic control of abiotic stress-related specialized metabolites in sunflower. By providing hints concerning the importance of antioxidant molecules in this biological context, and by highlighting some of the potential molecular mechanisms underlying their biosynthesis, it could pave the way for novel applications in breeding. Although further analyses will be required to better understand this topic, studying how antioxidants contribute to the tolerance to abiotic stresses in sunflower appears as a promising area of research.

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