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Metabolite signatures of grasspea suspension-cultured cells illustrate the complexity of dehydration response


Main conclusion

This represents the first report deciphering the dehydration response of suspension-cultured cells of a crop species, highlighting unique and shared pathways, and adaptive mechanisms via profiling of 330 metabolites.


Grasspea, being a hardy legume, is an ideal model system to study stress tolerance mechanisms in plants. In this study, we investigated the dehydration-responsive metabolome in grasspea suspension-cultured cells (SCCs) to identify the unique and shared metabolites crucial in imparting dehydration tolerance. To reveal the dehydration-induced metabolite signatures, SCCs of grasspea were exposed to 10% PEG, followed by metabolomic profiling. Chromatographic separation by HPLC coupled with MRM-MS led to the identification of 330 metabolites, designated dehydration-responsive metabolites (DRMs), which belonged to 28 varied functional classes. The metabolome was found to be constituted by carboxylic acids (17%), amino acids (13.5%), flavonoids (10.9%) and plant growth regulators (10%), among others. Pathway enrichment analysis revealed predominance of metabolites involved in phytohormone biosynthesis, secondary metabolism and osmotic adjustment. Exogenous application of DRMs, arbutin and acetylcholine, displayed improved physiological status in stress-resilient grasspea as well as hypersensitive pea, while administration of lauric acid imparted detrimental effects. This represents the first report on stress-induced metabolomic landscape of a crop species via a suspension culture system, which would provide new insights into the molecular mechanism of stress responses and adaptation in crop species.

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Abscisic acid


Dehydration-responsive metabolite


Dry weight


Fluorescein diacetate


Fresh weight


Gibberellic acid


Jasmonic acid




Principal component


Polyethylene glycol


Salicylic acid


Suspension-cultured cell


Total flavonoid content


Total phenolic content


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We thank the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Govt. of India, for providing pre-doctoral fellowship to D.R. and the University Grant Commission (UGC), Govt. of India, for providing pre-doctoral fellowship to A.P. This work was supported by Grants (38/1385/14/EMR-II) from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Govt. of India.

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Correspondence to Niranjan Chakraborty.

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Rathi, D., Pareek, A., Zhang, T. et al. Metabolite signatures of grasspea suspension-cultured cells illustrate the complexity of dehydration response. Planta 250, 857–871 (2019).

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  • Dehydration
  • Hardy legume
  • Metabolite signature
  • Non-targeted metabolomics
  • Suspension culture
  • Underutilized species