Genetic control of natural variation in Arabidopsis glucosinolate accumulation

Plant Physiol. 2001 Jun;126(2):811-25. doi: 10.1104/pp.126.2.811.


Glucosinolates are biologically active secondary metabolites of the Brassicaceae and related plant families that influence plant/insect interactions. Specific glucosinolates can act as feeding deterrents or stimulants, depending upon the insect species. Hence, natural selection might favor the presence of diverse glucosinolate profiles within a given species. We determined quantitative and qualitative variation in glucosinolates in the leaves and seeds of 39 Arabidopsis ecotypes. We identified 34 different glucosinolates, of which the majority are chain-elongated compounds derived from methionine. Polymorphism at only five loci was sufficient to generate 14 qualitatitvely different leaf glucosinolate profiles. Thus, there appears to be a modular genetic system regulating glucosinolate profiles in Arabidopsis. This system allows the rapid generation of new glucosinolate combinations in response to changing herbivory or other selective pressures. In addition to the qualitative variation in glucosinolate profiles, we found a nearly 20-fold difference in the quantity of total aliphatic glucosinolates and were able to identify a single locus that controls nearly three-quarters of this variation.

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism
  • Genes, Plant
  • Glucosinolates / metabolism*
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism
  • Seeds / metabolism


  • Glucosinolates