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Heterosis or hybrid vigor is widespread in plants and animals. Although the molecular basis for heterosis has been extensively studied, metabolic and proteomic contributions to heterosis remain elusive. Here we report an integrative analysis of time-series metabolome and proteome data in maize (Zea mays) hybrids and their inbred parents. Many maize metabolites and proteins are diurnally regulated, and many of these show nonadditive abundance in the hybrids, including key enzymes and metabolites involved in carbon assimilation. Compared with robust trait heterosis, metabolic heterosis is relatively mild. Interestingly, most amino acids display negative mid-parent heterosis (MPH), i.e., having lower values than the average of the parents, while sugars, alcohols, and nucleoside metabolites show positive MPH. From the network perspective, metabolites in the photosynthetic pathway show positive MPH, whereas metabolites in the photorespiratory pathway show negative MPH, which corresponds to nonadditive protein abundance and enzyme activities of key enzymes in the respective pathways in the hybrids. Moreover, diurnally expressed proteins that are upregulated in the hybrids are enriched in photosynthesis-related gene-ontology terms. Hybrids may more effectively remove toxic metabolites generated during photorespiration, and thus maintain higher photosynthetic efficiency. These metabolic and proteomic resources provide unique insight into heterosis and its utilization for high yielding maize and other crop plants. © 2020 American Society of Plant Biologists. All rights reserved.


Zhi Li, Andan Zhu, Qingxin Song, Helen Y Chen, Frank G Harmon, Z Jeffrey Chen. Temporal Regulation of the Metabolome and Proteome in Photosynthetic and Photorespiratory Pathways Contributes to Maize Heterosis. The Plant cell. 2020 Dec;32(12):3706-3722

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PMID: 33004616

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