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BMC Genomics. 2019 Jun 3;20(1):451. doi: 10.1186/s12864-019-5778-y.

The adaptation strategies of Herpetospermum pedunculosum (Ser.) Baill at altitude gradient of the Tibetan plateau by physiological and metabolomic methods.

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College of Life Science, Northeast Forestry University, Harbin, 150040, China.
Key Laboratory of Plant Ecology, Northeast Forestry University, Harbin, 150040, China.
Jilin Academy of Agricultural Science, Changchun, 130033, China.
Tibet Agriculture and Animal Husbandry College, Nyingchi, 860000, China.
College of Life Science, Northeast Forestry University, Harbin, 150040, China.



Herpetospermum pedunculosum (Ser.) Baill is annual scandent herbs. They are used in the treatment of piles, inflammation of the stomach and the intestines. It can survive the extreme environment of the Tibetan Plateau (TP). However, the underlying mechanisms of this adaptation to H. pedunculosum from TP remain unclear. Here, we combined physiological and metabolomics methods to analyze H. pedunculosum response to altitude gradient differences.


At high altitude, increases in the activities of Ascorbate peroxidase (APX), Glutathione reductase (GR), Dehydroascorbate reductase (DHAR), Monodehydroascorbate reductase (MDHAR), Superoxide dismutase (SOD) have been observed in leaves. Total Glutathion content, total Ascorbate content and the ASA (ascorbic acid)/docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) ration were highly elevated from low altitude to high altitude. In addition, high altitude induces decrease of the Anthocyanidin content (ANTH) and increase of abscisic acid content (ABA). The GC-MS analyses identified of 50 metabolites from leaves of H. pedunculosum. In addition, a metabolic network was constructed based on metabolomic datasets using a weighted correlation network analysis (WGCNA) approach. The network analysis uncovered 4 distinguished metabolic modules highly associated with I, II, III and IV respectively. Furthermore, the analysis successfully classified 50 samples into seven groups: carbohydrates, amino acids, organic acids, lipid components, polyamine, secondary metabolism and others.


In the present study, the content of parts of amino acid components increased in samples collected at higher altitudes, and most of metabolites, including carbohydrates and organic acids were assigned to the carbon metabolic pathway comprising reductive pentose phosphate pathway, glycolysis and TCA cycle, indicating the direct relationship between adaptability and the carbon metabolic pathway and amino acids in H. pedunculosum response to high altitude. The results of this study laid the foundation of the molecular mechanism on H. pedunculosum from high altitude.


Altitude; Herpetospermum pedunculosum; Metabolism; Physiology; The Tibetan plateau

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