Biosynthesis and distribution of insect-molting hormones in plants-A review

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Department of Biological Sciences


Insect-molting hormones, phytoecdysteroids, have been reported to occur in over 100 plant families. Plants, unlike insects, are capable of the biosynthesis of ecdysteroids from mevalonic acid, and in several cases the biosynthesis of phytoecdysteroids was also demonstrated to proceed via sterols. Spinacia oleracea (spinach) biosynthesizes polypodine B and 20-hydroxyecdysone, which is the predominant insect-molting hormone found in plant species. The onset of ecdysteroid production in spinach requires the appropriate ontogenetic development within the plant, which is related to leaf development. In spinach, lathosterol is the biosynthetic precursor to ecdysone and 20-hydroxyecdysone. Phosphorylated ecdysteroid intermediates, particularly ecdysone-3-phosphate, are required during biosynthesis. Polyphosphorylated forms of ecdysteroids are putative regulatory components of the pathway. During spinach development, the 20-hydroxyecdysone is transported from the sites of biosynthesis to the apical regions. An analysis of the physiological data available suggests that different species may synthesize ecdysteroids in various organs and distribute these ecdysteroids to other sites. Annual plants appear to concentrate ecdysteroids in the apical regions, including flowers and seeds. Perennial plants may recycle their ecdysteroids between their deciduous and their perennial organs over the growing season. Further investigations of ecdysteroid biosynthesis and physiology within plants will be required before an acceptable system can be designed to test phytoecdysteroid effectiveness in vivo against insect herbivory.

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© 1995 American Oil Chemists' Society. Publisher’s version of record: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02537830

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