Skip to main content
Log in

Plant breeding: importance of plant secondary metabolites for protection against pathogens and herbivores

  • Review
  • Published:
Theoretical and Applied Genetics Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Summary

Chemical protection plays a decisive role in the resistance of plants against pathogens and herbivores. The so-called secondary metabolites, which are a characteristic feature of plants, are especially important and can protect plants against a wide variety of microorganisms (viruses, bacteria, fungi) and herbivores (arthropods, vertebrates). As is the situation with all defense systems of plants and animals, a few specialized pathogens have evolved in plants and have overcome the chemical defense barrier. Furthermore, they are often attracted by a given plant toxin. During domestication of our crop and food plants secondary metabolites have sometimes been eliminated. Taking lupins as an example, it is illustrated that quinolizidine alkaloids are important as chemical defense compounds and that the alkaloid-free varieties (“sweet lupins”), which have been selected by plant breeders, are highly susceptible to a wide range of herbivores to which the alkaloid-rich wild types were resistant. The potential of secondary metabolites for plant breeding and agriculture is discussed.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others

References

  • Balandrin MF, Klocke JA, Wurtele ES, Bollinger WH (1985) Natural plant chemicals: sources of industrial and medicinal materials. Science 228:1154–1160

    Google Scholar 

  • Barz W (1977) Catabolism of endogenous and exogenous compounds by plant cell cultures. In: Barz W, Reinhard E, Zenk MH (eds) Plant tissue culture and its biotechnological application. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg, pp 153–171

    Google Scholar 

  • Barz W, Köster J (1981) Turnover and degradation of secondary (natural) products. In: Stumpf PK, Conn EE (eds) The biochemistry of plants, vol 7. Academic Press, New York, pp 35–83

    Google Scholar 

  • Bell JN, Dixon RA, Bailey JA, Rowell JA, Camb, CJ (1984) Differential induction of chalcone synthase mRNA activity at the onset of phytoalexin accumulation in compatible and incompatible plant-pathogen interactions. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 81:3383–3388

    Google Scholar 

  • Bellido LL (1982) Proc 2nd Int Lupin Conf. ILA, Madrid

    Google Scholar 

  • Bellido LL (1984) Proc 3rd Int Lupin Conf. ILA, La Rochelle

    Google Scholar 

  • Bentley MD, Leonard DE, Bushway RJ (1984) Solanum alkaloids as larval feeding deterrents for spruce budworm, Choristoneura fumiferana (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae). Ann Entomol Soc Am 77:401–403

    Google Scholar 

  • Boller T, Wiemken A (1986) Dynamics of vacuolar compartmentation. Annu Rev Plant Physiol 37:137–164

    Google Scholar 

  • Boppre M (1986) Insects pharmacophagously utilizing defensive plant chemicals (Pyrrolizidine alkaloids). Naturwissenschaften 73:17–26

    Google Scholar 

  • Brooks CJW, Watson DG (1985) Phytoalexins. Nat Prod Rep 2:427–459

    Google Scholar 

  • Chappell J, Hahlbrock K (1984) Transcription of plant defense genes in response to UV light or fungal elicitors. Nature 311:76–78

    Google Scholar 

  • Curtin B (1983) Biotechnology 1:649–657

    Google Scholar 

  • Deverall BJ (1977) Defense mechanisms of plants. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge London

    Google Scholar 

  • Dreyer D, Jones KC, Molyneux RJ (1985) Feeding deterrency of some pyrrolizidine, indolizidine, and quinolizidine alkaloids towards pea aphid (Acyrthosiphon pisum) and evidence for phloem transport of indolizidine alkaloid swainsonine. J Chem Ecol 11:1045–1051

    Google Scholar 

  • Edmunds M (1974) Defense in animals. Longman, Harlow

    Google Scholar 

  • Ehrlich PR, Raven PH (1964) Butterflies and plants: a study of coevolution. Evolution 18:586–608

    Google Scholar 

  • Fraenkel G (1959) The raison d'etre of secondary substances. Science 129:1466–1470

    Google Scholar 

  • Green MB, Hedin PA (1986) Natural resistance of plants to pests: roles of allelochemicals. ACS Symp Ser 296

  • Grisebach H, Ebel J (1978) Phytoalexine, chemische Abwehrstoffe höherer Pflanzen? Angew Chem 90:668–681

    Google Scholar 

  • Gross R, Bunting ES (1982) Agricultural and nutritional aspects of lupins. GTZ, Eschborn

    Google Scholar 

  • Habermehl G (1983) Gifttiere und ihre Waffen, 3 Aufl. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg

    Google Scholar 

  • Hackbarth J, Husfeld B (1939) Die Süßlupine. Züchtung, Anbau und Verwertung einer neuen Kulturpflanze. Parey, Berlin

    Google Scholar 

  • Harborne JB (1982) Introduction to ecological biochemistry. Academic Press, London New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Harborne JB (1986) Recent advances in chemical ecology. Nat Prod Rep 3:323–344

    Google Scholar 

  • Hedin PA, Davis FM, Williams WP, McCarty JC, Shephard RL, Porath A (1985) Screening to identify chemical markers of plant resistance to pests and plant stress. Ind Eng Chem Prod Res Dev 24:125–129

    Google Scholar 

  • Johns T (1985) Chemical ecology of the Aymara of Western Bolivia: Selection for glycoalkaloids in the Solanum × ajanhuiri domestication complex. PhD Dissertation, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

    Google Scholar 

  • Johns T (1986) Detoxification function of geophagy and domestication of the potatoe. J Chem Ecol 12:635–646

    Google Scholar 

  • Kauss H (1985) Callose biosynthesis as a Ca++-regulated process and possible relations to the induction of other metabolic changes. J Cell Sci (Suppl) 2:89–103

    Google Scholar 

  • Levin DA (1976) The chemical defenses of plants to pathogens and herbivores. Ann Rev Ecol Syst 7:121–159

    Google Scholar 

  • Levinson HZ (1976) The defensive role of alkaloids in insects and plants. Experientia 32:408–411

    Google Scholar 

  • Mothes K (1955) Physiology of alkaloids. Annu Rev Plant Physiol 6:393–432

    Google Scholar 

  • Mothes K (1976) Secondary plant substances as material for chemical high quality breeding in higher plants. In: Wallace JW, Mansell RL (eds) Biochemical interactions between plants and insects. Rec Adv Phytochem, vol 10. Plenum Press, London New York, p 385

    Google Scholar 

  • Nahrstedt A (1985) Cyanogenic compounds as protecting agents for organisms. Plant Syst Evol 150:35–47

    Google Scholar 

  • Paech K (1950) Biochemie und Physiologie der sekundären Pflanzenstoffe. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg

    Google Scholar 

  • Rosenthal GA (1982) Plant nonprotein amino acids and imino acids. Academic Press, London New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Rosenthal GA, Janzen DH (1979) Herbivores: their interaction with secondary plant metabolites. Academic Press, London New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Schildknecht H (1977) Protective substances of arthropods and plants. Pontif Accad Sci 3:59–107

    Google Scholar 

  • Schlee D (1986) Ökologische Biochemie. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Schneider W (1986) The strange fate of pyrrolizidine alkaloids. In: Chapman RF, Bernays EA, Stoffolano JG (eds) Perspectives in chemoreception behavior. Springer, New York, pp 123–142

    Google Scholar 

  • Schütte HR (1969) Chinolizidinalkaloide. In: Mothes K, Schütte HR (eds) Biosynthese der Alkaloide, VEB Berlin, pp 324–343

    Google Scholar 

  • Sinden SL, Sanford LL, Cantelo WW, Deahl KL (1986) Leptine glycoalkaloids and resistance to the Colorado potato beetle (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) in Solanum chacoense. Environ Entomol 15:1057–1062

    Google Scholar 

  • Stahl E (1888) Pflanzen und Schnecken. Jena Z Naturwiss 22:557

    Google Scholar 

  • Swain T (1977) Secondary compounds as protective agents. Annu Rev Plant Physiol 28:479–501

    Google Scholar 

  • Tingey WM (1984) Glycoalkaloids as pest resistance factors. Am Potato J 61:157–167

    Google Scholar 

  • Waller GR (1987) Allelochemicals: role in agriculture and forestry. ACS Symp Ser 330

  • Waller GR, Nowacki E (1978) Alkaloid biology and metabolism in plants. Plenum Press, London New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Wenzel G (1985) Strategies in unconventional breeding for disease resistance. Annu Rev Phytopathol 23:149–172

    Google Scholar 

  • Whittaker RH, Feeny RP (1971) Allelochemics: chemical interaction between species. Science 171:757–770

    Google Scholar 

  • Wiermann R (1981) Secondary products and cell and tissue differentiation. In: Stumpf PK, Conn EE (eds) The biochemistry of plants, vol 7. Academic Press, New York, pp 85–115

    Google Scholar 

  • Wink M (1984) Evidence for an extracellular lytic compartment of plant cell suspension cultures. The cell culture medium. Naturwissenschaften 71:635–636

    Google Scholar 

  • Wink M (1985) Chemische Verteidigung der Lupinen: zur biologischen Bedeutung der Chinolizidinalkaloide. Plant Syst Evol 150:65–81

    Google Scholar 

  • Wink M (1987) Chemical ecology of quinolizidine alkaloids. In: Waller GR (ed) Allelochemicals: role in agriculture, forestry and ecology. Am Chem Soc 330:524–533

  • Wink M, Hartmann T (1985) Enzymology of quinolizidine alkaloid biosynthesis. In: Zalewski RI, Skolik JJ (eds) Natural products chemistry 1984. Elsevier, Amsterdam

    Google Scholar 

  • Wink M, Römer P (1986) Acquired toxicity — the advantages of specializing on alkaloid-rich lupins to Macrosiphon albifrons (Aphidae). Naturwissenschaften 73:210–212

    Google Scholar 

  • Wink M, Witte L (1983) Evidence for a wide spread occurrence of the genes of quinolizidine alkaloid biosynthesis. Induction of alkaloid accumulation in cell suspension cultures of alkaloid-“free” species. FEBS Lett 159:196–200

    Google Scholar 

  • Wink M, Witte L (1984) Turnover and transport of quinolizidine alkaloids: diurnal variation of lupanine in the phloem sap, leaves and fruits of Lupinus albus L. Planta 161:519–524

    Google Scholar 

  • Wink M, Witte L (1985) Quinolizidine alkaloids as nitrogen source for lupin seedlings and cell suspension cultures. Z Naturforsch 40c:767–775

    Google Scholar 

  • Wolters B (1966) Zur antimikrobiellen Wirksamkeit pflanzlicher Steroide und Tripterpene. Planta Med 14:392–401

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Additional information

Communicated by G. Wenzel

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Wink, M. Plant breeding: importance of plant secondary metabolites for protection against pathogens and herbivores. Theoret. Appl. Genetics 75, 225–233 (1988). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00303957

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00303957

Key words

Navigation