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Ecol Evol. 2018 Aug 22;8(17):9105-9117. doi: 10.1002/ece3.4361. eCollection 2018 Sep.

Seasonal variation of secondary metabolites in nine different bryophytes.

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Leibniz Institute of Plant Biochemistry, Stress and Developmental Biology Halle Germany.
Institute of Biology/Geobotany and Botanical Garden Martin Luther University Halle Wittenberg Halle Germany.
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig Leipzig Germany.


Bryophytes occur in almost all land ecosystems and contribute to global biogeochemical cycles, ecosystem functioning, and influence vegetation dynamics. As growth and biochemistry of bryophytes are strongly dependent on the season, we analyzed metabolic variation across seasons with regard to ecological characteristics and phylogeny. Using bioinformatics methods, we present an integrative and reproducible approach to connect ecology with biochemistry. Nine different bryophyte species were collected in three composite samples in four seasons. Untargeted liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry (LC/MS) was performed to obtain metabolite profiles. Redundancy analysis, Pearson's correlation, Shannon diversity, and hierarchical clustering were used to determine relationships among species, seasons, ecological characteristics, and hierarchical clustering. Metabolite profiles of Marchantia polymorpha and Fissidens taxifolius which are species with ruderal life strategy (R-selected) showed low seasonal variability, while the profiles of the pleurocarpous mosses and Grimmia pulvinata which have characteristics of a competitive strategy (C-selected) were more variable. Polytrichum strictum and Plagiomnium undulatum had intermediary life strategies. Our study revealed strong species-specific differences in metabolite profiles between the seasons. Life strategies, growth forms, and indicator values for light and soil were among the most important ecological predictors. We demonstrate that untargeted Eco-Metabolomics provide useful biochemical insight that improves our understanding of fundamental ecological strategies.


biochemistry; bryophytes; chemotaxonomy; ecology; ecometabolomics; environment; liverworts; mosses; phylogeny

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