is one of the best known genera within the Labiatae (Lamiaceae) family, with more than 200 species and many medicinal and culinary uses. The effects of prolonged drought on lipid profile were investigated in tolerant and sensitive thyme plants (Thymus serpyllum
L. and Thymus vulgaris
L., respectively). Non-targeted non-polar metabolite profiling was carried out using Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance (FT-ICR) mass spectrometry with one-month-old plants exposed to drought stress, and their morpho-physiological parameters were also evaluated. Tolerant and sensitive plants exhibited clearly different responses at a physiological level. In addition, different trends for a number of non-polar metabolites were observed when comparing stressed and control samples, for both sensitive and tolerant plants. Sensitive plants showed the highest decrease (55%) in main lipid components such as galactolipids and phospholipids. In tolerant plants, the level of lipids involved in signaling increased, while intensities of those induced by stress (e.g., oxylipins) dramatically decreased (50–60%), in particular with respect to metabolites with m
values of 519.3331, 521.3488, and 581.3709. Partial least square discriminant analysis separated all the samples into four groups: tolerant watered, tolerant stressed, sensitive watered and sensitive stressed. The combination of lipid profiling and physiological parameters represented a promising tool for investigating the mechanisms of plant response to drought stress at non-polar metabolome level.
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