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BMC Plant Biol. 2019 Sep 6;19(1):389. doi: 10.1186/s12870-019-2005-6.

Physiological and metabolomics analyses of young and old leaves from wild and cultivated soybean seedlings under low-nitrogen conditions.

Author information

1
Institute of Grassland Science, Northeast Normal University, Key Laboratory of Vegetation Ecology, Ministry of Education, Changchun, 130024, People's Republic of China.
2
Institute of Grassland Science, Northeast Normal University, Key Laboratory of Vegetation Ecology, Ministry of Education, Changchun, 130024, People's Republic of China. lianxuanshi@nenu.edu.cn.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

It is critical to study the low nitrogen tolerance in wild soybean with extensive genetic diversity for improving cultivated soybean nitrogen use efficiency. Focusing on plant young and old leaves could provide new insights to low nitrogen tolerance research. This study compared the low nitrogen group with the control group on physiological and metabolomics changes in young and old leaves, respectively, then analyzed and compared the differences of these changes between cultivated and wild soybean. This study aimed to provide a theoretical basis for the molecular mechanism of soybean low nitrogen stress tolerance.

RESULTS:

Wild soybean was less affected by low-nitrogen stress than cultivated soybean as assessed by plant biomass paraments, total carbon content and total nitrogen content. Gas-exchange coefficients and chlorophylls contents maintained relatively stable in wild soybean young leaves, but opposite in cultivated soybean. Wild soybean young leaves also increased the transport of beneficial ions, such as B3+, Fe3+, Mn2+, H2PO4- and C2O42-. In wild soybean old leaves, the nitrogen metabolism pathway was significant enhanced, especially the aspartic acid and GABA metabolisms. While in cultivated soybean, the nitrogen metabolism decreased obviously in young leaves but had no significant change in old leaves. The phenylpropanoid metabolism pathway was also activated in wild soybean. Contrary to cultivated soybeans, wild soybean tricarboxylic acid cycle and carbon metabolism including polyols and organic acids consolidated in old leaves and maintained a relative normal state in young leaves. These strategies could improve the antioxidant and N-fixation capacity in wild soybean.

CONCLUSION:

The survival and growth of wild soybean under low nitrogen stress conditions relied on physiological adjustments and metabolic changes that occurred at the cellular level. Compared with cultivated soybean, wild soybean young leaves could maintain a relatively normal growth mainly owing to a significant enhancement of key amino acids and nonprotein nitrogen metabolism in old leaves, especially aspartic acid, proline metabolism which provided basis for nitrogen reutilization from old leaves to young leaves. Consolidating the tricarboxylic acid cycle, intensifying phenylpropanoid metabolism, and accumulating more polyols and organic acids also had positive effect on it.

KEYWORDS:

Gas exchange; Ionomics; Low nitrogen; Metabolomics; Old leaves; Soybean; Young leaves

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