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Phytochemistry. 2007 Nov-Dec;68(22-24):2937-45. Epub 2007 Nov 19.

Developments in aspects of ecological phytochemistry: the role of cis-jasmone in inducible defence systems in plants.

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  • 1Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, Hertfordshire AL5 2JQ, UK.


The challenges and opportunities for protecting agricultural production of food and other materials will be met through exploiting the induction of defence pathways in plants to control pests, diseases and weeds. These approaches will involve processes that can be activated by application of natural products, patented in terms of this use, to "switch on" defence pathways. Already, a number of secondary metabolite defence compounds are known for which the pathways are conveniently clustered genomically, e.g. the benzoxazinoids (hydroxamic acids) and the avenacins. For the former, it is shown that the small molecular weight lipophilic activator cis-jasmone can induce production of these compounds and certain genes within the pathway. Numerous groups around the world work on inducible defence systems. The science is rapidly expanding and involves studying the interacting components of defence pathways and the switching mechanisms activated by small molecular weight lipophilic compounds. Examples are described of how plant breeding can exploit these systems and how heterologous gene expression will eventually give rise to a new range of GM crops for food and energy, without the need for external application of synthetic pesticides.

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