Chemical Defenses of Crucifers: Elicitation and Metabolism of Phytoalexins and indole-3-acetonitrile in Brown Mustard and Turnip

Phytochemistry. 2002 Mar;59(6):611-25. doi: 10.1016/s0031-9422(02)00026-2.


The metabolism of the cruciferous phytoalexins brassinin and cyclobrassinin, and the related compounds indole-3-carboxaldehyde, glucobrassicin, and indole-3-acetaldoxime was investigated in various plant tissues of Brassica juncea and B. rapa. Metabolic studies with brassinin showed that stems of B. juncea metabolized radiolabeled brassinin to indole-3-acetic acid, via indole-3-carboxaldehyde, a detoxification pathway similar to that followed by the "blackleg" fungus (Phoma lingam/Leptosphaeria maculans). In addition, it was established that tetradeuterated brassinin was incorporated into the phytoalexin brassilexin in B. juncea and B. rapa. On the other hand, the tetradeuterated indole glucosinolate glucobrassicin was not incorporated into brassinin, although the chemical structures of brassinins and indole glucosinolates suggest an interconnected biogenesis. Importantly, tetradeuterated indole-3-acetaldoxime was an efficient precursor of phytoalexins brassinin, brassilexin, and spirobrassinin. Elicitation experiments in tissues of Brassica juncea and B. rapa showed that indole-3-acetonitrile was an inducible metabolite produced in leaves and stems of B. juncea but not in B. rapa. Indole-3-acetonitrile displayed antifungal activity similar to that of brassilexin, was metabolized by the blackleg fungus at slower rates than brassinin, cyclobrassinin, or brassilexin, and appeared to be involved in defense responses of B. juncea.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Infective Agents / metabolism*
  • Brassicaceae / chemistry
  • Brassicaceae / metabolism*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Glucosinolates / metabolism*
  • Indoles / metabolism*
  • Isotope Labeling
  • Plant Extracts / biosynthesis
  • Plant Extracts / metabolism*
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism
  • Plant Roots / metabolism
  • Plant Stems / metabolism
  • Sesquiterpenes
  • Terpenes
  • Thiocarbamates / metabolism*


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Glucosinolates
  • Indoles
  • Plant Extracts
  • Sesquiterpenes
  • Terpenes
  • Thiocarbamates
  • brassinin
  • phytoalexins
  • indole-3-carbaldehyde
  • indole-3-acetonitrile
  • glucobrassicin