Untargeted metabolomics reveal defensome-related metabolic reprogramming in sorghum bicolor against infection by burkholderia andropogonis

Charity R. Mareya, Fidele Tugizimana, Lizelle A. Piater, Ntakadzeni E. Madala, Paul A. Steenkamp, Ian A. Dubery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Burkholderia andropogonis is the causal agent of bacterial leaf stripe, one of the three major bacterial diseases affecting Sorghum bicolor. However, the biochemical aspects of the pathophysiological host responses are not well understood. An untargeted metabolomics approach was designed to understand molecular mechanisms underlying S. bicolor–B. andropogonis interactions. At the 4-leaf stage, two sorghum cultivars (NS 5511 and NS 5655) differing in disease tolerance, were infected with B. andropogonis and the metabolic changes monitored over time. The NS 5511 cultivar displayed delayed signs of wilting and lesion progression compared to the NS 5655 cultivar, indicative of enhanced resistance. The metabolomics results identified statistically significant metabolites as biomarkers associated with the sorghum defence. These include the phytohormones salicylic acid, jasmonic acid, and zeatin. Moreover, metabolic reprogramming in an array of chemically diverse metabolites that span a wide range of metabolic pathways was associated with the defence response. Signatory biomarkers included aromatic amino acids, shikimic acid, metabolites from the phenylpropanoid and flavonoid pathways, as well as fatty acids. Enhanced synthesis and accumulation of apigenin and derivatives thereof was a prominent feature of the altered metabolomes. The analyses revealed an intricate and dynamic network of the sorghum defence arsenal towards B. andropogonis in establishing an enhanced defensive capacity in support of resistance and disease suppression. The results pave the way for future analysis of the biosynthesis of signatory biomarkers and regulation of relevant metabolic pathways in sorghum.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019


  • Burkholderia andropogonis
  • Defence
  • Flavonoids
  • Metabolomics
  • Phytoalexins
  • Phytochemicals
  • Phytohormones
  • Sorghum bicolor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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