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Characterization of two closely related citrus cultivars using UPLC-ESI-MS/MS-based widely targeted metabolomics

by Fu Wang, Lin Chen, Shiwei Chen, Hongping Chen, Youping Liu

Citrus cultivars are widely spread worldwide, and some of them only differ by specific mutations along the genome. It is difficult to distinguish them by traditional morphological identification. To accurately identify such similar cultivars, the subtle differences between them must be detected. In this study, UPLC-ESI-MS/MS-based widely targeted metabolomics analysis was conducted to study the chemical differences between two closely related citrus cultivars, Citrus reticulata ‘DHP’ and C. reticulata ‘BZH’. Totally 352 metabolites including 11 terpenoids, 35 alkaloids, 80 phenolic acids, 25 coumarins, 7 lignans, 184 flavonoids and 10 other compounds were detected and identified; Among them, 15 metabolites are unique to DHP and 16 metabolites are unique to BZH. Hierarchical cluster analysis (HCA), principal component analysis (PCA), and orthogonal signal correction and partial least squares-discriminant analysis (OPLS-DA) can be used to clearly discriminate between DHP and BZH. 93 metabolites including 36 down-regulated and 57 up-regulated are significantly different in DHP and BZH. They are mainly involved in the biosynthesis of flavonoids, flavones, flavonols, and isoflavonoids. In addition, the relative content levels of flavonoids, alkaloids, and terpenoids are much higher in the peel of DHP than that of BZH, the presence of which may correlate with the quality difference of the peels. The results reported herein indicate that metabolite analysis based on UPLC-ESI-MS/MS is an effective means of identifying cultivars with different genotypes, especially those that cannot be distinguished based on traditional identification methods.

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