Background: Sago palm is an important agricultural starch-producing crop in Malaysia.
The trunk of sago palm is responsible for the the starch to reach maturity for harvesting
after ten years. However, there are sago palms that fail to develop thier trunk after 17
years of being planted. This is known as a stressed “non-trunking” sago palm, which reduces
the economic value of the palms.
Objective: The study was initiated to compare the differences in metabolite expression between
trunking and non-trunking sago palms and secondly to determine the potential metabolite-
makers that are related to differential phenotypes of sago palms.
Methods: Metabolites were extracted using various solvents and analysed using NMR spectroscopy
and GC-MS spectrometry. Data obtained were subjected to principal component
Results: The study determined differential metabolites expression in the leaf extracts of
normal trunking sago palm compared to the non-trunking palms. Metabolite groups differently
expressed between trunking and non-trunking sago palm are oils and waxes, haloalkanes,
sulfite esters, phosphonates, phosphoric acid, thiophene ester, terpenes and tocopherols.
GC-MS analysis of Jones & Kinghorn extraction method determined two sets of metabolite
markers, explaining the differences in metabolites expression of trunking and nontrunking
sago palms in ethyl acetate and methanol extract of 89.55% comprising sulfurous
ester compounds and 87.04% comprising sulfurous ester, sulfurous acid and cyclohexylmethyl
hexyl ester, respectively.
Conclusion: Two sets of metabolite markers were expressed in the trunking and nontrunking
sago palms. These metabolites can potentially be used as markers for identifying
normal and stressed plants.