Metabolomics targets tissue-specific responses in alleviating the negative effects of salinity in tef (Eragrostis tef) during germination

Bahareh Sadat Haddadi, Rui Fang, Aiswarya Girija, Divya Kattupalli, Emma Widdowson, Manfred Beckmann, Rattan Yadav, Luis A J Mur (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
33 Downloads (Pure)


Main conclusion
Salinity induced metabolite responses resulted in differential accumulation of flavonoids and antioxidant metabolites in shoots and roots suggesting improved antioxidant capacity in providing salt-adaptive phenotype of tef seedling.

Tef [(Eragrostis tef) (Zucc.) Trotter] is an important ‘cash crop’ of Ethiopia grown mainly for human food, and development of elite tef cultivars with better performance is vital to Ethiopian farmers and breeders. Soil salinity is one of the key constraints that affects tef yield in the Ethiopian lowlands and Rift valley where cultivation of tef is limited. Being a minor crop, the responses of tef towards salinity is unknown. Salinity involves physiological and metabolite reprogramming that can have major impact on germination and seedling establishment. Here we evaluate the in vitro effect of NaCl on tef germination and associate this with metabolomic approaches to suggest salt tolerance mechanisms. In this study, 19 tef varieties were screened for NaCl tolerance and were investigated using untargeted metabolomics. Screened tef varieties showed differential germination rates with NaCl treatment varying from < 20 to 100%. Viable seedlings exposed to NaCl exhibited purple-red pigment accumulation in the roots except for Beten and Tullu nasy varieties. Metabolite comparisons between shoots and roots showed significant differences and, in particular, roots of salt tolerant tef varieties accumulated flavonoid derivatives as well as sugars and cell wall associated metabolites. These metabolic changes were correlated with patterns of antioxidant capacities and total flavonoid content in shoots and roots and suggested a mitigating response by tef to salinity. Our study highlights the role of flavonoid accumulation following salt stress on tef seedlings and further these findings could be used as targets for selective tef breeding.
Original languageEnglish
Article number67
Number of pages15
Issue number3
Early online date19 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 01 Sept 2023


  • Metabolomics
  • Flavonoids
  • Germination
  • Salinity
  • Eragrostis tef
  • Root colour


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