Climate change constitutes a real threat to the global landscape. Current climate models predict an increased occurrence of coastal floods associated to sea level rise and long-term droughts associated to changes in the intra- and inter-year rainfall variability. Under natural environmental conditions, plants are routinely exposed to abiotic stresses, and must develop different strategies to cope with this multitude of climate change factors. Mass spectrometry (MS)-based plant metabolomics approaches are finding an increasing number of applications to investigate the molecular and biochemical mechanisms that underlie plant responses to changing environments. These studies provide a promising basis for facilitating our understanding of the plant’s flexibility to reconfigure central metabolic pathways (i.e., carbon, nitrogen and energy metabolism) as well as the degree by which plants tolerate and/or are susceptible to a climate change scenario. In this chapter, we will provide an update on the recent MS-based metabolomics strategies to study plant responses to drought, salt and heat stress as well as combinations thereof. We will describe how these stresses activate and coordinate several different signalling pathways, for example, through the synthesis of osmolytes.
Part of the book: Plant, Abiotic Stress and Responses to Climate Change