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J Chem Ecol. 2011 Aug;37(8):891-8. doi: 10.1007/s10886-011-9988-2. Epub 2011 Jun 28.

The allelochemical L-DOPA increases melanin production and reduces reactive oxygen species in soybean roots.

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Laboratory of Plant Biochemistry, University of Maringá, Av. Colombo, 5790, 87020-900, Maringá, PR, Brazil.


The non-protein amino acid, L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (L-DOPA), is the main allelochemical released from the roots of velvetbean and affects seed germination and root growth of several plant species. In the work presented here, we evaluated, in soybean roots, the effects of L-DOPA on the following: polyphenol oxidase (PPO), superoxide dismutase (SOD), peroxidase (POD), and catalase (CAT) activities; superoxide anion (O·-2), hydrogen peroxide (H(2)O(2)), and melanin contents; and lipid peroxidation. To this end, 3-day-old seedlings were cultivated in half-strength Hoagland's solution (pH 6.0), with or without 0.1 to 1.0 mM L-DOPA in a growth chamber (at 25°C, with a light/dark photoperiod of 12/12 hr and a photon flux density of 280 μmol m(-2) s(-1)) for 24 hr. The results showed that L-DOPA increased the PPO activity and, further, the melanin content. The activities of SOD and POD increased, but CAT activity decreased after the chemical exposure. The contents of reactive oxygen species (ROS), such as O·-2 and H(2)O(2), and the levels of lipid peroxidation significantly decreased under all concentrations of L-DOPA tested. These results suggest that L-DOPA was absorbed by the soybean roots and metabolized to melanin. It was concluded that the reduction in the O·-2 and H(2)O(2) contents and lipid peroxidation in soybean roots was due to the enhanced SOD and POD activities and thus a possible antioxidant role of L-DOPA.

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