Journal of Plant Growth Regulation

, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 779–788 | Cite as

Phytotoxic and Metabolic Effects of Exogenous Quinate on Pisum sativum L.



Quinate (1,3,4,5-tetrahydroxycyclohexanecarboxylate) is a compound synthesized in plants through a side branch of the shikimate biosynthesis pathway. Plants treated with herbicides that inhibit amino acid biosynthesis (branched-chain and aromatic) accumulate quinate in their leaves. The objective of this study was to evaluate whether quinate mimics the effects of herbicides in plants. In pea plants, exogenous application of quinate through the nutrient solution was compared with leaf spraying at a concentration of 4 and 400 mM, respectively, and evaluated in parallel to the effects of herbicides. The analysis facilitated an assessment of the phytotoxicity and potential use of quinate as a natural herbicide. The application of quinate through the nutrient solution, but not the spray, was lethal, although both treatments affected plant growth. Quinate was absorbed and translocated to other plant organs remote from the application site, and an increase in the levels of aromatic amino acids and caffeic acid (that is, compounds located after quinate in the shikimate biosynthesis pathway) was detected, which indicates that quinate was metabolized and incorporated into the shikimate pathway. Exogenous application of quinate affected the carbohydrate content in the leaves and roots in a way similar to the toxic effects of herbicides. The phytotoxic effects of quinate reported in this study suggest that this compound deregulates the shikimate pathway and mimics some physiological effects described in the mode of action of herbicides inhibiting amino acid biosynthesis.


Spray to leaves Supply to roots Phytotoxicity Physiological effects Glyphosate Acetolactate synthase inhibitors 



The authors would like to thank G. Garijo for technical assistance. A. Zulet received a grant from the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science. This work was supported through funding from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (AGL-2010-18621/AGR).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Ciencias del Medio NaturalUniversidad Pública de NavarraPamplonaSpain

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