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21.01.2021 by ChemBioSys
NEWS: How plants produce defensive toxins without harming themselves
ChemBioSys publication: Controlled hydroxylations of diterpenoids allow for plant chemical defense without autotoxicity (Science 2021)
"Defense and autotoxicity: Researchers elucidate the biosynthesis and mode of action of diterpene glycosides in wild tobacco
Plants produce toxic substances to defend themselves against herbivores. In a new study, scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena and the University of Münster, Germany, were able to describe in detail the biosynthesis and exact mode of action of an important group of defensive substances, the diterpene glycosides, in wild tobacco plants. Diterpene glycosides allow plants to fend off herbivores. The study shows that these plant chemicals attack certain parts of the cell membrane. To protect themselves from their own toxins and to prevent their cell membranes from being damaged, tobacco plants store these substances in a non-toxic form which is synthesized in a very particular way. Autotoxicity and the protection against it seem to play a greater role in the evolution of plant defenses than previously thought."
Li J, Halitschke R, Li D, Paetz C, Su H, Heiling S, Xu S, Baldwin IT (2021) Controlled hydroxylations of diterpenoids allow for plant chemical defense without autotoxicity. Science 371:255-260. doi:10.1126/science.abe4713