Future improvement of woody biomass crops such as willow and poplar relies on our ability to select for metabolic traits that sequester more atmospheric carbon into biomass, or into useful products to replace petrochemical streams. We describe the development of metabotyping screens for willow, using combined 1D 1
H-NMR-MS. A protocol was developed to overcome 1D 1
H-NMR spectral alignment problems caused by variable pH and peak broadening arising from high organic acid levels and metal cations. The outcome was a robust method to allow direct statistical comparison of profiles arising from source (leaf) and sink (stem) tissues allowing data to be normalised to a constant weight of the soluble metabolome. We also describe the analysis of two willow biomass varieties, demonstrating how fingerprints from
H-NMR-MS vary from the top to the bottom of the plant. Automated extraction of quantitative data of 56 primary and secondary metabolites from 1D 1
H-NMR spectra was realised by the construction and application of a Salix
metabolite spectral library using the Chenomx software suite. The optimised metabotyping screen in conjunction with automated quantitation will enable high-throughput screening of genetic collections. It also provides genotype and tissue specific data for future modelling of carbon flow in metabolic networks.
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