beta-Glucosidases as detonators of plant chemical defense

Phytochemistry. 2008 Jun;69(9):1795-813. doi: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2008.03.006. Epub 2008 May 9.


Some plant secondary metabolites are classified as phytoanticipins. When plant tissue in which they are present is disrupted, the phytoanticipins are bio-activated by the action of beta-glucosidases. These binary systems--two sets of components that when separated are relatively inert--provide plants with an immediate chemical defense against protruding herbivores and pathogens. This review provides an update on our knowledge of the beta-glucosidases involved in activation of the four major classes of phytoanticipins: cyanogenic glucosides, benzoxazinoid glucosides, avenacosides and glucosinolates. New aspects of the role of specific proteins that either control oligomerization of the beta-glucosidases or modulate their product specificity are discussed in an evolutionary perspective.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cellulases / metabolism*
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Plant Physiological Phenomena / drug effects
  • Plants / drug effects*
  • Plants / enzymology*
  • Protein Binding


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Cellulases