Garlic (Allium sativum) is the second most important Allium crop that has been used as a vegetable and condiment from ancient times due to its characteristic flavor and taste. Although garlic is a sterile plant that reproduces vegetatively through cloves, garlic shows high biodiversity, as well as phenotypic plasticity and environmental adaptation capacity. To determine the possible mechanism underlying this phenomenon and to provide new genetic materials for the development of a novel garlic cultivar with useful agronomic traits, the metabolic profiles in the leaf tissue of 30 garlic accessions collected from different geographical regions, with a special focus on the Asian region, were investigated using LC/MS. In addition, the total saponin and fructan contents in the roots and cloves of the investigated garlic accessions were also evaluated. Total saponin and fructan contents did not separate the garlic accessions based on their geographical origin, implying that saponin and fructan contents were clone-specific and agroclimatic changes have affected the quantitative and qualitative levels of saponins in garlic over a long history of cultivation. Principal component analysis (PCA) and dendrogram clustering of the LC/MS-based metabolite profiling showed two major clusters. Specifically, many Japanese and Central Asia accessions were grouped in cluster I and showed high accumulations of flavonol glucosides, alliin, and methiin. On the other hand, garlic accessions grouped in cluster II exhibited a high accumulation of anthocyanin glucosides and amino acids. Although most of the accessions were not separated based on country of origin, the Central Asia accessions were clustered in one group, implying that these accessions exhibited distinct metabolic profiles. The present study provides useful information that can be used for germplasm selection and the development of new garlic varieties with beneficial biotic and abiotic stress-adaptive traits.
Keywords: fructan; garlic; metabolome profiles; saponins.