On the distribution of phytoecdysteroids in plants
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The occurrence and levels of phytoecdysteroids in the seeds and other parts of plants grown from the seeds of 180 randomly selected plant species were assessed and compared. Ecdysteroids are frequently detectable in leaves and flowers, but less so in stems, roots and seeds. The seeds of 290 species were assessed for the presence of hydrolysable ecdysteroid conjugates. Low levels of conjugates were detected in a significant number of species, large amounts being present only when levels of free ecdysteroids were high. Individual plants of Arabidopsis thaliana were assessed for the presence of phytoecdysteroids. While plants of this species are generally ecdysteroid negative, individual plants in the population accumulate low levels of ecdysteroids. Extracts of seeds of 50 "ecdysteroid-negative" species were concentrated and partially purified to determine if they possess ecdysteroids at levels below the usual detection levels. Ecdysteroids were detectable by radioimmunoassay in almost all of these concentrated samples. Thus, all lines of evidence point to the conclusion that all species of plants have the capacity to produce at least low levels of phytoecdysteroids. This has important implications for the protection of crop species through enhancing ecdysteroid levels by breeding/genetic modification strategies.
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