Drought can severely damage crops, resulting in major yield losses. During drought, vascular land plants conserve water via stomatal closure. Each stomate is bordered by a pair of guard cells that shrink in response to drought and the associated hormone abscisic acid (ABA). The activation of complex intracellular signaling networks underlies these responses. Therefore, analysis of guard cell metabolites is fundamental for elucidation of guard cell signaling pathways. Brassica napus is an important oilseed crop for human consumption and biodiesel production. Here, non-targeted metabolomics utilizing gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS/MS) and liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) were employed for the first time to identify metabolic signatures in response to ABA in B. napus guard cell protoplasts. Metabolome profiling identified 390 distinct metabolites in B. napus guard cells, falling into diverse classes. Of these, 77 metabolites, comprising both primary and secondary metabolites were found to be significantly ABA responsive, including carbohydrates, fatty acids, glucosinolates, and flavonoids. Selected secondary metabolites, sinigrin, quercetin, campesterol, and sitosterol, were confirmed to regulate stomatal closure in Arabidopsis thaliana, B. napus or both species. Information derived from metabolite datasets can provide a blueprint for improvement of water use efficiency and drought tolerance in crops.
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