The difference in size, shape, and chemical cues of leaves and flowers display the underlying genetic makeup and their interactions with the environment. The need to understand the molecular signatures of these fragile plant surfaces is illustrated with a model plant, Madagascar periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus (L.) G. Don). Flat, thin layer chromatographic imprints of leaves/petals were imaged using desorption electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (DESI MS), and the results were compared with electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI MS) of their extracts. Tandem mass spectrometry with DESI and ESI, in conjunction with database records, confirmed the molecular species. This protocol has been extended to other plants. Implications of this study in identifying varietal differences, toxic metabolite production, changes in metabolites during growth, pest/pathogen attack, and natural stresses are shown with illustrations. The possibility to image subtle features like eye color of petals, leaf vacuole, leaf margin, and veins is demonstrated.
Via Plant Breeding and Genomics News