Single cell-type comparative metabolomics of epidermal bladder cells from the halophyte Mesembryanthemum crystallinum

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Barkla, BJ & Vera-Estrella, R 2015, 'Single cell-type comparative metabolomics of epidermal bladder cells from the halophyte Mesembryanthemum crystallinum', Frontiers in Biology, vol. 6 (June), article: 435.

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One of the remarkable adaptive features of the halophyte Mesembryanthemum crystallinum are the specialized modified trichomes called epidermal bladder cells (EBC) which cover the leaves, stems, and peduncle of the plant. They are present from an early developmental stage but upon salt stress rapidly expand due to the accumulation of water and sodium. This particular plant feature makes it an attractive system for single cell type studies, with recent proteomics and transcriptomics studies of the EBC establishing that these cells are metabolically active and have roles other than sodium sequestration. To continue our investigation into the function of these unusual cells we carried out a comprehensive global analysis of the metabolites present in the EBC extract by gas chromatography Time-of-Flight mass spectrometry (GC-TOF) and identified 194 known and 722 total molecular features. Statistical analysis of the metabolic changes between control and salt-treated samples identified 352 significantly differing metabolites (268 after correction for FDR). Principal components analysis provided an unbiased evaluation of the data variance structure. Biochemical pathway enrichment analysis suggested significant perturbations in 13 biochemical pathways as defined in KEGG. More than 50% of the metabolites that show significant changes in the EBC, can be classified as compatible solutes and include sugars, sugar alcohols, protein and non-protein amino acids, and organic acids, highlighting the need to maintain osmotic homeostasis to balance the accumulation of Na+ and Cl− ions. Overall, the comparison of metabolic changes in salt treated relative to control samples suggests large alterations in M. crystallinum epidermal bladder cells.

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