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Metabolic patterns in Septoria canker resistant and susceptible Populus trichocarpa genotypes 24 hours post-inoculation

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Sphaerulina musiva is an economically and ecologically important fungal pathogen that causes Septoria stem canker and leaf spot disease of Populus species. To bridge the gap between genetic markers and structural barriers previously found to be linked to Septoria (Sphaerulina musiva) canker disease resistance in poplar, we employed hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography (HILIC) and tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) to identify and quantify metabolites involved with signaling and cell wall re-modelling. Fluctuations in signaling molecules, organic acids, amino acids, sterols, phenolics, and saccharides in resistant and susceptible Populus trichocarpa inoculated with Sphaerulina musiva, were observed. The patterns of 222 metabolites in the resistant host implicates systemic acquired resistance (SAR), cell wall apposition, and lignin deposition as modes of resistance to this hemibiotrophic pathogen. This pattern is consistent with the expected response to the biotrophic phase of S. musiva colonization during the first 24 hours post-inoculation. The fungal pathogen metabolized key regulatory signals of SAR, other phenolics, and precursors of lignin biosynthesis which were depleted in the susceptible host. This is the first study to characterize metabolites associated with the response to initial colonization by S. musiva between resistant and susceptible hosts.