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Mol Ecol. 2016 Feb;25(4):959-76. doi: 10.1111/mec.13525. Epub 2016 Feb 11.

Exploring natural variation of Pinus pinaster Aiton using metabolomics: Is it possible to identify the region of origin of a pine from its metabolites?

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Regional Institute for Research and Agro-Food Development in Asturias, Experimental Station "La Mata", 33820, Grado, Spain.
Czechglobe, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Bělidla, 986/4a, 603 00, Brno, Czech Republic.
Department of Ecogenomics and Systems Biology, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Vienna, Althanstrasse 14, 1090, Vienna.
Vienna Metabolomics Center, University of Vienna, Universitätsring 1, 1010, Vienna.
Forest and Wood Technology Research Centre, Experimental Station "La Mata", 33820, Grado.
Plant Physiology, University of Oviedo, Catedrático Rodrigo Uría, 33006, Oviedo.


Natural variation of the metabolome of Pinus pinaster was studied to improve understanding of its role in the adaptation process and phenotypic diversity. The metabolomes of needles and the apical and basal section of buds were analysed in ten provenances of P. pinaster, selected from France, Spain and Morocco, grown in a common garden for 5 years. The employment of complementary mass spectrometry techniques (GC-MS and LC-Orbitrap-MS) together with bioinformatics tools allowed the reliable quantification of 2403 molecular masses. The analysis of the metabolome showed that differences were maintained across provenances and that the metabolites characteristic of each organ are mainly related to amino acid metabolism, while provenances were distinguishable essentially through secondary metabolism when organs were analysed independently. Integrative analyses of metabolome, environmental and growth data provided a comprehensive picture of adaptation plasticity in conifers. These analyses defined two major groups of plants, distinguished by secondary metabolism: that is, either Atlantic or Mediterranean provenance. Needles were the most sensitive organ, where strong correlations were found between flavonoids and the water regime of the geographic origin of the provenance. The data obtained point to genome specialization aimed at maximizing the drought stress resistance of trees depending on their origin.


GC-MS; UPLC-Orbitrap-MS; abiotic stress; adaptation; conifers; flavonoids; terpenoids

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