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Planta. 2005 Jul;221(5):603-6. Epub 2005 Jun 2.

New insight into the biosynthesis and regulation of indole compounds in Arabidopsis thaliana.

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  • 1Plant Biochemistry Laboratory, Department of Plant Biology, and Center of Molecular Plant Physiology, Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, 40 Thorvaldsensvej, 1871 Frederiksberg C, Copenhagen, Denmark.


In spite of their silent and sessile life, plants are dynamic organisms that have developed advanced defence strategies in their adaptation to the pressure of herbivores and pathogens. Natural plant products play an important role as chemical weapons in this warfare. Characteristic of cruciferous plants is the synthesis of nitrogen- and sulphur-rich compounds, such as glucosinolates (Mikkelsen et al. 2002) and indole alkaloids (Pedras et al. 2000). Glucosinolates are believed to be largely non-toxic, but upon tissue disruption, they are hydrolyzed by endogenous beta-thioglucosidases (myrosinases) (Rask et al. 2000) to primarily isothiocyanates and nitriles, which have many biological activities. These include not only important roles as repellents against herbivorous insects and microorganisms, but also as volatile attraction of specialized insects (Wittstock and Halkier 2002). For humans, these compounds serve as cancer-preventive agents, biopesticides, and flavor compounds (Talalay and Fahey 2001). Indole alkaloids are phytoalexins and production of specific alkaloids is usually limited to only a few species. Cruciferous plants include the model plant Arabidopsis, which produces the indole alkaloid camalexin. This review will focus on the central role of indole-3-acetaldoxime (IAOx) in the biosynthesis of indole glucosinolates, camalexin, and the phytohormone IAA.

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