Plant Physiol 2004 Oct 24;136(2):3364-75. Epub 2004 Sep 24.
Plant Biotechnology Research Center, School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science , Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Michigan 49931, USA.
Profiles of small polar metabolites from aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) leaves spanning the sink-to-source transition zone were compared. Approximately 25% of 250 to 300 routinely resolved peaks were identified, with carbohydrates, organic acids, and amino acids being most abundant. Two-thirds of identified metabolites exhibited greater than 4-fold changes in abundance during leaf ontogeny. In the context of photosynthetic and respiratory measurements, profile data yielded information consistent with expected developmental trends in carbon-heterotrophic and carbon-autotrophic metabolism. Suc concentration increased throughout leaf expansion, while hexose sugar concentrations peaked at mid-expansion and decreased sharply thereafter. Amino acid contents generally decreased during leaf expansion, but an early increase in Phe and a later one in Gly and Ser reflected growing commitments to secondary metabolism and photorespiration, respectively. The assimilation of nitrate and utilization of stored Asn appeared to be marked by sequential changes in malate concentration and Asn transaminase activity. Principal component and hierarchical clustering analysis facilitated the grouping of cell wall maturation (pectins, hemicelluloses, and oxalate) and membrane biogenesis markers in relation to developmental changes in carbon and nitrogen assimilation. Metabolite profiling will facilitate investigation of nitrogen use and cellular development in Populus sp. varying widely in their growth and pattern of carbon allocation during sink-to-source development and in response to stress.