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Ergosterol-Induced Sesquiterpenoid Synthesis in Tobacco Cells

Author(s): Fidele Tugizimana | Paul A. Steenkamp | Lizelle A. Piater | Ian A. Dubery

Journal: Molecules
ISSN 1420-3049

Volume: 17;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 1698;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: ergosterol | metabolomics | Nicotiana tabacum | phytoalexins | secondary metabolites | sesquiterpenoids | UPLC-HDMS

Plants have the ability to continuously respond to microbial signals in their environment. One of these stimuli is a steroid from fungal membranes, ergosterol, which does not occur in plants, but acts as a pathogen-associated molecular pattern molecule to trigger defence mechanisms. Here we investigated the effect of ergosterol on the secondary metabolites in tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) cells by profiling the induced sesquiterpenoids. Suspensions of tobacco cells were treated with different concentrations (0–1,000 nM) of ergosterol and incubated for different time periods (0–24 h). Metabolites were extracted with a selective dispersive liquid-liquid micro-extraction method. Thin layer chromatography was used as a screening method for identification of sesquiterpenoids in tobacco extracts. Liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry was used for quantitative and qualitative analyses. The results showed that ergosterol triggered differential changes in the metabolome of tobacco cells, leading to variation in the biosynthesis of secondary metabolites. Metabolomic analysis through principal component analysis-scores plots revealed clusters of sample replicates for ergosterol treatments of 0, 50, 150, 300 and 1,000 nM and time-dependent variation at 0, 6, 12, 18 and 24 h. Five bicyclic sesquiterpenoid phytoalexins, capsidiol, lubimin, rishitin, solavetivone and phytuberin, were identified as being ergosterol-induced, contributing to the altered metabolome.
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