Introduction: Tuta absoluta (Meyrick) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) is one of the most devastating and harmful pests of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) crops causing up to 80–100% yield losses. A large arsenal of plant metabolites is induced by the leafminer feeding including defence compounds that could differ among varieties.
Objective: To compare the metabolomic changes of different genotypes of tomato (tolerant “T”, susceptible “S” and “F1” hybrid obtained between T and S) after exposition to T. absoluta.
Methodology: Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy followed by multivariate data analysis were performed to analyse the metabolic profiles of control and infested samples on three different tomato genotypes.
Results: Signals related to GABA (γ-aminobutyric acid) were relatively much higher in all infested samples compared to the non-infested plants used as control. Infested T genotype samples were the most abundant in organic acids, including fatty acids and acyl sugars, chlorogenic acid, neo-chlorogenic acid and feruloyl quinic acid, indicating a clear link between the exposure to leafminer. Results also showed an increase of trigonelline in all tomato varieties after exposition to T. absoluta.
Conclusion: Metabolomics approach based on NMR spectroscopy followed by multivariate data analysis allowed for a detailed metabolite profile of plant defences, providing fundamental information for breeding programmes in plant crops.