Austropuccinia psidii is a fungal plant pathogen that infects species within the Myrtaceae, causing the disease myrtle rust. Myrtle rust is causing declines in populations within natural and managed ecosystems and is expected to result in species extinctions. Despite this, variation in response to A. psidii exist within some species, from complete susceptibility to resistance that prevents or limits infection by the pathogen. Untargeted metabolomics using Ultra Performance Liquid Chromatography with Ion Mobility followed by analysis using MetaboAnalyst 3.0, was used to explore the chemical defence profiles of resistant, hypersensitive and susceptible phenotypes within Melaleuca quinquenervia during the early stages of A. psidii infection. We were able to identify three separate pools of secondary metabolites: (i) metabolites classified structurally as flavonoids that were naturally higher in the leaves of resistant individuals prior to infection, (ii) organoheterocyclic and carbohydrate-related metabolites that varied with the level of host resistance post-infection, and
(iii) metabolites from the terpenoid pathways that were responsive to disease progression regardless of resistance phenotype suggesting that these play a minimal role in disease resistance during the early stages of colonization of this species. Based on the classes of these secondary metabolites, our results provide an improved understanding of key pathways that could be linked more generally to rust resistance with particular application within Melaleuca.
Moffitt, M. C., et al. (2022). “Both Constitutive and Infection-Responsive Secondary Metabolites Linked to Resistance against Austropuccinia psidii (Myrtle Rust) in Melaleuca quinquenervia.” Microorganisms 10(2): 383.