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Distinct metabolite classes in root exudates are indicative for field- or hydroponically-grown cover crops (2023.0)

Heuermann D., Döll S., Schweneker D., Feuerstein U., Gentsch N., von Wirén N.

Frontiers in Plant Science, 14 (),



IntroductionPlants release a large variety of metabolites via their roots to shape physico-chemical soil properties and biological processes in the rhizosphere. While hydroponic growth conditions facilitate accessibility of the root system and recovery of root exudates, the natural soil environment can alter root metabolism and exudate secretion, raising the question to what extent the quantity and composition of root exudates released in hydroponic growth systems reflect those recovered from soil-grown roots.MethodsUsing a root washing method, we sampled root exudates from four field-grown cover crop species with wide taxonomic distance, namely white mustard, lacy phacelia, bristle oat, and Egyptian clover. A set of primary metabolites and secondary metabolites were analysed in a targeted and untargeted LC-MS-based approach, respectively, for comparison with exudates obtained from hydroponically cultured plants.Results and discussionWe found that hydroponically cultivated plants released a larger amount of total carbon, but that the recovery of total carbon was not indicative for the diversity of metabolites in root exudates. In the field, root exudates from phacelia and clover contained 2.4 to 3.8 times more secondary metabolites, whereas carbon exudation in hydroponics was 5- to 4-fold higher. The composition of the set of metabolites identified using the untargeted approach was much more distinct among all species and growth conditions than that of quantified primary metabolites. Among secondary metabolite classes, the presence of lipids and lipid-like molecules was highly indicative for field samples, while the release of a large amount of phenylpropanoids, organoheterocyclic compounds or benzenoids was characteristic for clover, mustard or oat, respectively, irrespective of the cultivation condition. However, at the compound level the bulk of released metabolites was specific for cultivation conditions in every species, which implies that hydroponically sampled root exudates poorly reflect the metabolic complexity of root exudates recovered from field-grown plants. Catchy