Comparative metabolomics of root-tips reveals distinct metabolic pathways conferring drought tolerance in contrasting genotypes of rice

Zahra Ghorbanzadeh, Rasmieh Hamid, Feba Jacob, Mehrshad Zeinalabedini, Ghasem Hosseini Salekdeh, Mohammad Reza Ghaffari*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)
    32 Downloads (Pure)


    Background: The mechanisms underlying rice root responses to drought during the early developmental stages are yet unknown.

    Results: This study aimed to determine metabolic differences in IR64, a shallow-rooting, drought-susceptible genotype, and Azucena, a drought-tolerant and deep-rooting genotype under drought stress. The morphological evaluation revealed that Azucena might evade water stress by increasing the lateral root system growth, the root surface area, and length to access water. At the same time, IR64 may rely mainly on cell wall thickening to tolerate stress. Furthermore, significant differences were observed in 49 metabolites in IR64 and 80 metabolites in Azucena, for which most metabolites were implicated in secondary metabolism, amino acid metabolism, nucleotide acid metabolism and sugar and sugar alcohol metabolism. Among these metabolites, a significant positive correlation was found between allantoin, galactaric acid, gluconic acid, glucose, and drought tolerance. These metabolites may serve as markers of drought tolerance in genotype screening programs. Based on corresponding biological pathways analysis of the differentially abundant metabolites (DAMs), biosynthesis of alkaloid-derivatives of the shikimate pathway, fatty acid biosynthesis, purine metabolism, TCA cycle and amino acid biosynthesis were the most statistically enriched biological pathway in Azucena in drought response. However, in IR64, the differentially abundant metabolites of starch and sucrose metabolism were the most statistically enriched biological pathways. 

    Conclusion: Metabolic marker candidates for drought tolerance were identified in both genotypes. Thus, these markers that were experimentally determined in distinct metabolic pathways can be used for the development or selection of drought-tolerant rice genotypes.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number152
    Pages (from-to)1-20
    Number of pages20
    JournalBMC Genomics
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 27 Mar 2023

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2023. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • Root Tips
    • Drought Stress
    • Root Architecture
    • Metabolites
    • Rice


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