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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Relationship between metabolic and genomic diversity in sesame (Sesamum indicum L.)

Hernán Laurentin1, Astrid Ratzinger2 and Petr Karlovsky2*

Author Affiliations

1 Universidad Centroccidental Lisandro Alvarado, Biologic Sciences Department, Agronomy Faculty, Barquisimeto, Venezuela

2 University Goettingen, Molecular Phytopathology and Mycotoxin Research Unit, Goettingen, Germany

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BMC Genomics 2008, 9:250  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-9-250

Published: 29 May 2008



Diversity estimates in cultivated plants provide a rationale for conservation strategies and support the selection of starting material for breeding programs. Diversity measures applied to crops usually have been limited to the assessment of genome polymorphism at the DNA level. Occasionally, selected morphological features are recorded and the content of key chemical constituents determined, but unbiased and comprehensive chemical phenotypes have not been included systematically in diversity surveys. Our objective in this study was to assess metabolic diversity in sesame by nontargeted metabolic profiling and elucidate the relationship between metabolic and genome diversity in this crop.


Ten sesame accessions were selected that represent most of the genome diversity of sesame grown in India, Western Asia, Sudan and Venezuela based on previous AFLP studies. Ethanolic seed extracts were separated by HPLC, metabolites were ionized by positive and negative electrospray and ions were detected with an ion trap mass spectrometer in full-scan mode for m/z from 50 to 1000. Genome diversity was determined by Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphism (AFLP) using eight primer pair combinations. The relationship between biodiversity at the genome and at the metabolome levels was assessed by correlation analysis and multivariate statistics.


Patterns of diversity at the genomic and metabolic levels differed, indicating that selection played a significant role in the evolution of metabolic diversity in sesame. This result implies that when used for the selection of genotypes in breeding and conservation, diversity assessment based on neutral DNA markers should be complemented with metabolic profiles. We hypothesize that this applies to all crops with a long history of domestication that possess commercially relevant traits affected by chemical phenotypes.