Comprehensive metabolome and volatilome analyses in eggplant and tomato reveal their differential responses to Tuta absoluta infestation.
The South American tomato pinworm, Tuta absoluta, is one of the most destructive insect pests in Solanaceae crops, particularly in tomatoes. Current methods of management have proven somewhat effective but still require a more efficacious management strategy to limit its havoc on crop yield. Tomato is much more predisposed to T. absoluta as compared with other plants such as eggplants, but the underlying causes have not been fully determined. We conducted this study to unravel the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and primary/secondary metabolites that account for the differential response of tomatoes and eggplants to T. absoluta infestation. We performed widely targeted comparative metabolome and volatilome profiling by ultraperformance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (UPLC-MS/MS) and headspace solid-phase microextraction coupled to gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (HS-SPME/GC-MS), respectively, on eggplants and tomatoes under control and T. absoluta infestation conditions. Overall, 141 VOCs and 797 primary/secondary metabolites were identified, largely dominated by aldehyde, alcohols, alkanes, amine, aromatics, a heterocyclic compound, ketone, olefin, phenol, and terpenes. Most of the VOCs and primary/secondary metabolites from the terpene class were largely differentially regulated in eggplants compared with tomatoes. Eggplants emitted several compounds that were lower or completely absent in tomatoes either under control conditions or after T. absoluta infestation. The results from an electroantennogram showed that 35 differentially accumulated VOCs could elicit female T. absoluta response, implying that these volatile compounds significantly alter the behavior of this pest. These findings demonstrated that differentially accumulated metabolites and volatile compounds play major roles in eggplant resistance to T. absoluta infestation as these compounds were regulated upon attack by T. absoluta. Our findings can assist in integrated pest management efforts by developing appropriate control measures against T. absoluta in Solanaceae production.