The effects of tea plants-soybean intercropping on the secondary metabolites of tea plants by metabolomics analysis
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Abstract Background Intercropping, especially with legumes, as a productive and sustainable system, can promote plants growth and improves the soil quality than the sole crop, is an essential cultivation pattern in modern agricultural systems. However, the metabolic changes of secondary metabolites and the growth in tea plants during the processing of intercropping with soybean have not been fully analyzed. Results The secondary metabolomic of the tea plants were significant influence with intercropping soybean during the different growth stages. Especially in the profuse flowering stage of intercropping soybean, the biosynthesis of amino acids was significantly impacted, and the flavonoid biosynthesis, the flavone and flavonol biosynthesis also were changed. And the expression of metabolites associated with amino acids metabolism, particularly glutamate, glutamine, lysine and arginine were up-regulated, while the expression of the sucrose and D-Glucose-6P were down-regulated. Furthermore, the chlorophyll photosynthetic parameters and the photosynthetic activity of tea plants were higher in the tea plants-soybean intercropping system. Conclusions These results strengthen our understanding of the metabolic mechanisms in tea plant’s secondary metabolites under the tea plants-soybean intercropping system and demonstrate that the intercropping system of leguminous crops is greatly potential to improve tea quality. These may provide the basis for reducing the application of nitrogen fertilizer and improve the ecosystem in tea plantations.