Changes in the levels of plant metabolites in response to nutrient deficiency is indicative of how plants utilize scarce resources. In this study, changes in the metabolite profile of roots and shoots of wheat genotypes differing in phosphorus use efficiency (PUE) was investigated. Under low P supply and at 28 days after sowing (DAS), the wheat breeding line, RAC875 (P efficient) produced 42% more shoot biomass than the wheat variety, and Wyalkatchem (P inefficient). Significant changes in the metabolite profile in leaves and roots were observed under low P supply and significant genotypic variation was evident. Under low P supply, an increase in raffinose and 1-kestose was evident in roots of both wheat genotypes, with RAC875 accumulating more when compared to Wyalkatchem. There was no significant increase in raffinose and 1-kestose in leaves when plants were grown under P deficiency. P deficiency had no significant impact on the levels of sucrose, maltose, glucose and fructose in both genotypes, and while phosphorylated sugars (glucose-6-P and fructose-6-P) remained unchanged in RAC875, in Wyalkatchem, glucose-6-P significantly decreased in roots, and fructose-6-P significantly decreased in both leaves and roots. Glycerol-3-P decreased twofold in roots of both wheat genotypes in response to low P. In roots, RAC875 exhibited significantly lower levels of fumarate, malate, maleate and itaconate than Wyalkatchem, while low P enhanced organic acid exudation in RAC875 but not in Wyalkatchem. RAC875 showed greater accumulation of aspartate, glutamine and β-alanine in leaves than Wyalkatchem under low P supply. Greater accumulation of raffinose and 1-kestose in roots and aspartate, glutamine and β-alanine in leaves appears to be associated with enhanced PUE in RAC875. Glucose-6-P and fructose-6-P are important for glycolysis, thus maintaining these metabolites would enable RAC875 to maintain carbohydrate metabolism and shoot biomass under P deficiency. The work presented here provides evidence that differences in metabolite profiles can be observed between wheat varieties that differ in PUE and key metabolic pathways are maintained in the efficient genotype to ensure carbon supply under P deficiency.
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- phosphorus use efficiency
- root exudates