IJMS, Vol. 19, Pages 249: GC-MS Metabolomics to Evaluate the Composition of Plant Cuticular Waxes for Four Triticum aestivum Cultivars
International Journal of Molecular Sciences doi: 10.3390/ijms19020249
Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is an important food crop, and biotic and abiotic stresses significantly impact grain yield. Wheat leaf and stem surface waxes are associated with traits of biological importance, including stress resistance. Past studies have characterized the composition of wheat cuticular waxes, however protocols can be relatively low-throughput and narrow in the range of metabolites detected. Here, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) metabolomics methods were utilized to provide a comprehensive characterization of the chemical composition of cuticular waxes in wheat leaves and stems. Further, waxes from four wheat cultivars were assayed to evaluate the potential for GC-MS metabolomics to describe wax composition attributed to differences in wheat genotype. A total of 263 putative compounds were detected and included 58 wax compounds that can be classified (e.g., alkanes and fatty acids). Many of the detected wax metabolites have known associations to important biological functions. Principal component analysis and ANOVA were used to evaluate metabolite distribution, which was attributed to both tissue type (leaf, stem) and cultivar differences. Leaves contained more primary alcohols than stems such as 6-methylheptacosan-1-ol and octacosan-1-ol. The metabolite data were validated using scanning electron microscopy of epicuticular wax crystals which detected wax tubules and platelets. Conan was the only cultivar to display alcohol-associated platelet-shaped crystals on its abaxial leaf surface. Taken together, application of GC-MS metabolomics enabled the characterization of cuticular wax content in wheat tissues and provided relative quantitative comparisons among sample types, thus contributing to the understanding of wax composition associated with important phenotypic traits in a major crop.