Allotetraploidization in Brachypodium May Have Led to the Dominance of One Parent’s Metabolome in Germinating Seeds

Aleksandra Skalska, Elzbieta Wolny, Manfred Beckmann, John H. Doonan, Robert Hasterok*, Luis A. J. Mur*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Seed germination is a complex process during which a mature seed resumes metabolic activity to prepare for seedling growth. In this study, we performed a comparative metabolomic analysis of the embryo and endosperm using the community standard lines of three annual Brachypodium species, i.e., B. distachyon (Bd) and B. stacei (Bs) and their natural allotetraploid B. hybridum (BdBs) that has wider ecological range than the other two species. We explored how far the metabolomic impact of allotetraploidization would be observable as over-lapping changes at 4, 12, and 24 h after imbibition (HAI) with water when germination was initiated. Metabolic changes during germination were more prominent in Brachypodium embryos than in the endosperm. The embryo and endosperm metabolomes of Bs and BdBs were similar, and those of Bd were distinctive. The Bs and BdBs embryos showed increased levels of sugars and the tricarboxylic acid cycle compared to Bd, which could have been indicative of better nutrient mobilization from the endosperm. Bs and BdBs also showed higher oxalate levels that could aid nutrient transfer through altered cellular events. In Brachypodium endosperm, the thick cell wall, in addition to starch, has been suggested to be a source of nutrients to the embryo. Metabolites indicative of sugar metabolism in the endosperm of all three species were not prominent, suggesting that mobilization mostly occurred prior to 4 HAI. Hydroxycinnamic and monolignol changes in Bs and BdBs were consistent with cell wall remodeling that arose following the release of nutrients to the respective embryos. Amino acid changes in both the embryo and endosperm were broadly consistent across the species. Taking our data together, the formation of BdBs may have maintained much of the Bs metabolome in both the embryo and endosperm during the early stages of germination. In the embryo, this conserved Bs metabolome appeared to include an elevated sugar metabolism that played a vital role in germination. If these observations are confirmed in the future with more Brachypodium accessions, it would substantiate the dominance of the Bs metabolome in BdBs allotetraploidization and the use of metabolomics to suggest important adaptive changes.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere828
Number of pages16
Issue number4
Early online date07 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 07 Apr 2021


  • Brachypodium species
  • metabolites
  • model grass
  • seed germination
  • Metabolomics
  • Germination/genetics
  • Seeds/growth & development
  • Metabolome/genetics
  • Discriminant Analysis
  • Tetraploidy
  • Oxalic Acid/metabolism
  • Least-Squares Analysis
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Sugars/metabolism
  • Brachypodium/embryology


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