A genomics and multi-platform metabolomics approach to identify new traits of rice quality in traditional and improved varieties
Using a novel approach combining four complementary metabolomic and mineral platforms with genome-wide genotyping at 1536 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) loci, we have investigated the extent of biochemical and genetic diversity in three commercially-relevant waxy rice cultivars important to food production in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR). Following cultivation with different nitrogen fertiliser regimes, multiple metabolomic data sets, including minerals, were produced and analysed using multivariate statistical methods to reveal the degree of similarity between the genotypes and to identify discriminatory compounds supported by multiple technology platforms. Results revealed little effect of nitrogen supply on metabolites related to quality, despite known yield differences. All platforms revealed unique metabolic signatures for each variety and many discriminatory compounds could be identified as being relevant to consumers in terms of nutritional value and taste or flavour. For each platform, metabolomic diversity was highly associated with genetic distance between the varieties. This study demonstrates that multiple metabolomic platforms have potential as phenotyping tools to assist breeders in their quest to combine key yield and quality characteristics. This better enables rice improvement programs to meet different consumer and farmer needs, and to address food security in rice-consuming countries.