CeBiTec Colloquium


Monday, January 23rd 2012, 17 c.t.


G2-104, CeBiTec Building


Dr. Roland Mumm

Plant Research International, Wageningen, the Netherlands
Centre for BioSystems Genomics, Wageningen, the Netherlands


A metabolomics approach to decipher bioactive traits in food crops


Global food crops such as rice, melon, tomato, but also mushrooms are of high economic importance. The commercial value of crops is determined by the tissue quality in relation to aspects of, for example, flavour, fragrance, or shelf life but also by its resistance against pests. Hence the quality of crops is a direct function of their metabolite content. Each of these can be fully defined in terms of the metabolic profile of the material concerned at a particular time.

Within the framework of the EU-project METAPHOR we applied a range of six complementary metabolomic profiling platforms in order to study the spatial and developmental dynamics of metabolic profiles in different crop species. Multivariate data analysis approaches were then applied to visualize inter-analyte relationships. In melon, for example, the study design enabled the identification of so-called co-regulated hub metabolites in metabolic association networks and revealed links of primary and secondary metabolism to key mineral and volatile flavour complements.

In another example an untargeted metabolomics approach was used to detect an infection of compost colonised with white button mushroom culture by a pathogenic fungus based on the volatile headspace profiles. In the Netherlands, the white button mushroom is grown in bulk production. Recently, the dutch mushroom sector faced large problems by an infection of the green mould (Trichoderma aggressivum) which results in large yield losses.

These metabolomics technologies are thus enabling us to identify and home in on essential candidate metabolites which can become the subject of high-throughput screening approaches as part of targeted breeding programmes aimed at improvement of flavour and fragrance or an increased resistance in crops.


Prof. Dr. Caroline Müller