Since specific metabolites may be associated with salinity tolerance, this study aimed to decipher the salinity tolerance mechanism in date palm based on the information encoded by the metabolomic profiles of the salt-tolerant “Umsila” and salt-susceptible “Zabad” cultivars when grown under salinity conditions. Changes in the metabolomic profiles of the leaf and root tissues were determined using hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography (HILIC) and reverse-phase liquid chromatography (RPLC) mass spectrometry. The global untargeted metabolomic analysis showed the presence of 4878 metabolites accumulated in leaf and root tissues of the date palm seedlings. Principal component analysis (PCA) revealed the presence of unique groups of metabolites for each treatment and tissue type. Pathway analysis showed the involvement of some of these metabolites in the biosynthesis of several types of membranous lipids and glycolipids molecules such as 18:0-lyso-phosphatidylethanolamine (lysoPE), and also the synthesis of cell-wall components such as 16-hydroxy hexadecanoic acid, which is an intermediate metabolite in cutin, suberin, and wax biosynthesis. Moreover, antioxidant flavonoids such as (+)-catechin and epicatechin, vitamins such as B9, phytohormone-associated compounds such as dihydrozeatin-9-N-glucoside-O-glucoside, and osmolytes such as the sulfonic amino acid taurine were all significantly (p ≤ 0.05, FWER ≤ 0.05) altered in response to salinity in both cultivars. These results indicate that salinity tolerance in date palm involved a multi-dimensional mechanism, which includes the modification of the cell-wall and cellular membranes, the production of oxygen species scavengers, the adjustment of cellular osmotic pressure, and probably the alteration of the hormonal balance. The intracultivar metabolomic profile comparison strategy performed in this study represents an approach that may pave the road toward the identification of salinity tolerance mechanisms in date palm based on the final protein products.
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