Assessing specialized metabolite diversity in the cosmopolitan plant genus Euphorbia l.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article – Annual report year: 2019Researchpeer-review

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  • Author: Ernst, Madeleine

    University of Copenhagen, Denmark

  • Author: Nothias, Louis Félix

    University of California at San Diego, United States

  • Author: van der Hooft, Justin J.J.

    Wageningen University & Research, Netherlands

  • Author: Silva, Ricardo R.

    University of California at San Diego, United States

  • Author: Saslis-Lagoudakis, C. Haris

    University of Copenhagen, Denmark

  • Author: Grace, Olwen M.

    The Royal Botanic Gardens, United Kingdom

  • Author: Martinez-Swatson, Karen Agatha

    University of Copenhagen, Denmark

  • Author: Hassemer, Gustavo

    University of Copenhagen, Denmark

  • Author: Funez, Luís A.

    Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil

  • Author: Simonsen, Henrik T.

    Photosynthetic Cell Factories, Section for Synthetic Biology, Department of Biotechnology and Biomedicine, Technical University of Denmark, Søltofts Plads, 2800, Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark

  • Author: Medema, Marnix H.

    Wageningen University & Research, Netherlands

  • Author: Stærk, Dan

    University of Copenhagen, Denmark

  • Author: Nilsson, Niclas

    LEO Pharma AS, Denmark

  • Author: Lovato, Paola

    LEO Pharma AS, Denmark

  • Author: Dorrestein, Pieter C.

    University of California at San Diego, United States

  • Author: Rønsted, Nina

    University of Copenhagen, Denmark

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Coevolutionary theory suggests that an arms race between plants and herbivores yields increased plant specialized metabolite diversity and the geographic mosaic theory of coevolution predicts that coevolutionary interactions vary across geographic scales. Consequently, plant specialized metabolite diversity is expected to be highest in coevolutionary hotspots, geographic regions, which exhibit strong reciprocal selection on the interacting species. Despite being well-established theoretical frameworks, technical limitations have precluded rigorous hypothesis testing. Here we aim at understanding how geographic separation over evolutionary time may have impacted chemical differentiation in the cosmopolitan plant genus Euphorbia. We use a combination of state-of-the-art computational mass spectral metabolomics tools together with cell-based high-throughput immunomodulatory testing. Our results show significant differences in specialized metabolite diversity across geographically separated phylogenetic clades. Chemical structural diversity of the highly toxic Euphorbia diterpenoids is significantly reduced in species native to the Americas, compared to Afro-Eurasia. The localization of these compounds to young stems and roots suggest a possible ecological relevance in herbivory defense. This is further supported by reduced immunomodulatory activity in the American subclade as well as herbivore distribution patterns. We conclude that computational mass spectrometric metabolomics coupled with relevant ecological data provide a strong tool for exploring plant specialized metabolite diversity in a chemo-evolutionary framework.

Original languageEnglish
Article number846
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Volume10
Number of pages15
ISSN1664-462X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019
CitationsWeb of Science® Times Cited: No match on DOI

    Research areas

  • Coevolution, Computational metabolomics, Euphorbia, Immunomodulatory testing, Specialized metabolites

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