The interrelationship of morphogenesis and metabolism is a poorly studied phenomenon. The main paradigm is that development is controlled by gene expression. The aim of the present study was to correlate metabolism to early and late stages of flower and fruit development in order to provide the basis for the identification of metabolic adjustment and limitations.
A highly detailed picture of morphogenesis is achieved using nondestructive micro computed tomography. This technique was used to quantify morphometric parameters of early and late flower development in an Arabidopsis thaliana mutant with synchronized flower initiation. The synchronized flower phenotype made it possible to sample enough early floral tissue otherwise not accessible for metabolomic analysis.
The integration of metabolomic and morphometric data enabled the correlation of metabolic signatures with the process of flower morphogenesis. These signatures changed significantly during development, indicating a pronounced metabolic reprogramming in the tissue. Distinct sets of metabolites involved in these processes were identified and were linked to the findings of previous gene expression studies of flower development. High correlations with basic leucine zipper (bZIP) transcription factors and nitrogen metabolism genes involved in the control of metabolic carbon : nitrogen partitioning were revealed.
Based on these observations a model for metabolic adjustment during flower development is proposed.