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Open AccessArticle

Metabolic Profiling of Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids in Foliage of Two Echium spp. Invaders in Australia—A Case of Novel Weapons?

1
Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, Charles Sturt University , Wagga Wagga, NSW 2678, Australia
2
Institute of Applied Ecology, Fujian Agriculture & Forestry University, Fuzhou 350002, China
3
Division of Biological Science, University of Montana, Missoula, MT 59812, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Ute Roessner
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2015, 16(11), 26721-26737; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms161125979
Received: 7 September 2015 / Revised: 26 October 2015 / Accepted: 26 October 2015 / Published: 6 November 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Metabolomics in the Plant Sciences)
Metabolic profiling allows for simultaneous and rapid annotation of biochemically similar organismal metabolites. An effective platform for profiling of toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) and their N-oxides (PANOs) was developed using ultra high pressure liquid chromatography quadrupole time-of-flight (UHPLC-QTOF) mass spectrometry. Field-collected populations of invasive Australian weeds, Echium plantagineum and E. vulgare were raised under controlled glasshouse conditions and surveyed for the presence of related PAs and PANOs in leaf tissues at various growth stages. Echium plantagineum possessed numerous related and abundant PANOs (>17) by seven days following seed germination, and these were also observed in rosette and flowering growth stages. In contrast, the less invasive E. vulgare accumulated significantly lower levels of most PANOs under identical glasshouse conditions. Several previously unreported PAs were also found at trace levels. Field-grown populations of both species were also evaluated for PA production and highly toxic echimidine N-oxide was amongst the most abundant PANOs in foliage of both species. PAs in field and glasshouse plants were more abundant in the more widely invasive species, E. plantagineum, and may provide competitive advantage by increasing the plant’s capacity to deter natural enemies in its invaded range through production of novel weapons. View Full-Text
Keywords: metabolomics; UHPLC Q-TOF; Paterson’s curse; E. plantagineum; E. vulgare; plant defense metabolomics; UHPLC Q-TOF; Paterson’s curse; E. plantagineum; E. vulgare; plant defense
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Skoneczny, D.; Weston, P.A.; Zhu, X.; Gurr, G.M.; Callaway, R.M.; Weston, L.A. Metabolic Profiling of Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids in Foliage of Two Echium spp. Invaders in Australia—A Case of Novel Weapons? Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2015, 16, 26721-26737.

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