Integrated metabolomics and genomics analysis provides new insights into the fiber elongation process in Ligon lintless-2 mutant cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.)

Marina Naoumkina, Doug J Hinchliffe, Rickie B Turley, John M Bland, David D Fang
BMC Genomics 2013, 14: 155

BACKGROUND: The length of cotton fiber is an important agronomic trait characteristic that directly affects the quality of yarn and fabric. The cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) fiber mutation, Ligon lintless-2, is controlled by a single dominant gene (Li(2)) and results in extremely shortened lint fibers on mature seeds with no visible pleiotropic effects on vegetative growth and development. The Li(2) mutant phenotype provides an ideal model system to study fiber elongation. To understand metabolic processes involved in cotton fiber elongation, changes in metabolites and transcripts in the Li(2) mutant fibers were compared to wild-type fibers during development.

RESULTS: Principal component analysis of metabolites from GC-MS data separated Li(2) mutant fiber samples from WT fiber samples at the WT elongation stage, indicating that the Li(2) mutation altered the metabolome of the mutant fibers. The observed alterations in the Li(2) metabolome included significant reductions in the levels of detected free sugars, sugar alcohols, sugar acids, and sugar phosphates. Biological processes associated with carbohydrate biosynthesis, cell wall loosening, and cytoskeleton were also down-regulated in Li(2) fibers. Gamma-aminobutyric acid, known as a signaling factor in many organisms, was significantly elevated in mutant fibers. Higher accumulation of 2-ketoglutarate, succinate, and malate suggested higher nitrate assimilation in the Li(2) line. Transcriptional activation of genes involved in nitrogen compound metabolism along with changes in the levels of nitrogen transport amino acids suggested re-direction of carbon flow into nitrogen metabolism in Li(2) mutant fibers.

CONCLUSIONS: This report provides the first comprehensive analysis of metabolite and transcript changes in response to the Li(2) mutation in elongating fibers. A number of factors associated with cell elongation found in this study will facilitate further research in understanding metabolic processes of cotton fiber elongation.

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