METABOLIC AND TRANSCRIPTOME ANALYSIS REVEALS METABOLITE VARIATION AND FLAVONOID REGULATORY NETWORKS IN FRESH SHOOTS OF TEA (CAMELLIA SINENSIS) OVER THREE SEASONS
Metabolites, especially secondary metabolites, are very important in the adaption of tea plants and the quality of tea products. Here, we focus on the seasonal variation in metabolites of fresh tea shoots and their regulatory mechanism at the transcriptional level. The metabolic profiles of fresh tea shoots of 10 tea accessions collected in spring, summer, and autumn were analyzed using ultra-performance liquid chromatography coupled with quadrupole-obitrap mass spectrometry. We focused on the metabolites and key genes in the phenylpropanoid/flavonoid pathway integrated with transcriptome analysis. Multivariate statistical analysis indicates that metabolites were distinctly different with seasonal alternation. Flavonoids, amino acids, organic acids and alkaloids were the predominant metabolites. Levels of most key genes and downstream compounds in the flavonoid pathway were lowest in spring but the catechin quality index was highest in spring. The regulatory pathway was explored by constructing a metabolite correlation network and a weighted gene co-expression network.