Variation in Leaf-Surface and Leaf-Tissue Secondary Metabolites: Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids

  • Dandan ChengEmail author
Living reference work entry
Part of the Reference Series in Phytochemistry book series (RSP)


Pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) represent a class of typical SMs, which are constitutively formed in the plants containing them and mediating plant-herbivore interactions. More than 400 PAs have been identified from approx. 6000 angiosperm species. Great diversity of PAs was found in many plants, especially in Jacobaea and Senecio plants. Leaf-tissue PA variation was found between plant species, individual plants of the same species, and even among different organs within one plant. This variation was determined by genetics, but also influenced by environmental factors. Few studies have been conducted to investigate the leaf-surface PA variations. According to the previous work on J. vulgaris plants and the Jacobaea hybrid plants, leaf-surface and leaf-tissue PA profiles of a particular genotype were different from one another: a number of PAs that were present in the leaf tissue at relatively high concentrations were absent from the leaf surface.

Nevertheless, positive correlations were found for the concentration of all PAs, that of the free bases, as well as that of a number of individual PAs between the leaf surface and leaf tissue. Moreover, the total amount of PAs present on the surface of the leaves was less than 0.01% of the total amount present in the leaf tissue. This makes it clear that the relationship between the leaf-surface and leaf-tissue SMs can offer an important new angle to the study the insect-plant interaction mediated by plant SMs.


Jacobaea vulgaris Jacobaea aquatica Secondary metabolites Diversity 



Dr. Klaas Vrieling, Dr. Patrick P. J. Mulder, Dr. Prof. Eddy van der Meijden, and Dr. Prof. Peter G. L. Klinkhamer are thanked for their help in writing this MS. We are grateful to the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (CUG130411) and National Natural Science Foundation of China (No.31570537 and 31200425) for their financial support.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Biogeology and Environmental GeologyChina University of Geosciences (Wuhan)WuhanChina

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