Folate metabolic profiling and expression of folate metabolism-related genes during panicle development in foxtail millet (Setaria italica (L.) P. Beauv)

J Sci Food Agric. 2021 Jun 9. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.11355. Online ahead of print.


Background: Foxtail millet grain has higher folate content than other cereal crops. However, the folate metabolite content and the expression patterns of folate metabolite-related genes are unknown.

Results: LC-MS was used to investigate 12 folate metabolites in a foxtail millet panicle. The content of total folate and derivatives gradually decreased during panicle development. Polyglutamate 5-formyl-tetrahydrofolate was the major form. Twenty-eight genes involved in the folate metabolic pathway were identified through bioinformatic analysis. These genes in Setaria italica, Setaria viridis, and Zea mays showed genomic collinearity. The phylogenetic analysis revealed that the folate-related genes were closely related among the C4 plants compared to C3 plants. The gene expressions were then studied at three panicle development stages. The gene expression patterns were classified into two groups. Notably, SiADCL1 and SiGGH as two key enzymes, which be responsible for folate synthesis and degradation, their expression levels were highest at the early panicle development stage, up to 179.11 and 163.88 folds, respectively. Their expression levels had a similar downward trend during panicle development and were significantly positively correlated with the concentration of total folate and folate derivatives. However, SiSHMT3 expression levels were significantly negatively correlated with total folate concentration.

Conclusion: Besides being the major determinants of folate and folate derivatives accumulation, SiADCL1 and SiGGH expression levels are key limiting factors in the foxtail millet panicle. Therefore, SiADCL1 and SiGGH expression levels can be targeted in genetic modification studies to improve folate content in foxtail millet seeds in the future. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Folate metabolites; folate metabolism pathway; foxtail millet; gene expression; one-carbon metabolism.