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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Aug 20;99(17):11223-8. Epub 2002 Aug 2.

Disarming the mustard oil bomb.

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  • 1Department of Genetics and Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Winzerlaer Strasse 10, 07745 Jena, Germany.


Plants are attacked by a broad array of herbivores and pathogens. In response, plants deploy an arsenal of defensive traits. In Brassicaceae, the glucosinolate-myrosinase complex is a sophisticated two-component system to ward off opponents. However, this so-called "mustard oil bomb" is disarmed by a glucosinolate sulfatase of a crucifer specialist insect, diamondback moth, Plutella xylostella (Lepidoptera: Plutellidae). Sulfatase activity of this enzyme largely prevents the formation of toxic hydrolysis products arising from this plant defense system. Importantly, the enzyme acts on all major classes of glucosinolates, thus enabling diamondback moths to use a broad range of cruciferous host plants.

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