Phytochemistry. 2010 Jul;71(10):1032-9. doi: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2010.03.011. Epub 2010 Apr 10.


Sorgoleone, a major component of the hydrophobic root exudate of sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench], is one of the most studied allelochemicals. The exudate also contains an equivalent amount of a lipid resorcinol analog as well as a number of minor sorgoleone congeners. Synthesis of sorgoleone is constitutive and compartmentalized within root hairs, which can accumulate up to 20 microg of exudate/mg root dry weight. The biosynthesis pathway involves unique fatty acid desaturases which produce an atypical 16:3 fatty acyl-CoA starter unit for an alkylresorcinol synthase that catalyzes the formation of a pentadecatrienylresorcinol intermediate. This intermediate is then methylated by SAM-dependent O-methyltransferases and dihydroxylated by cytochrome P450 monooxygenases. An EST data set derived from a S. bicolor root hair-specific cDNA library contained all the candidate sequences potentially encoding enzymes involved in the sorgoleone biosynthetic pathway. Sorgoleone interferes with several molecular target sites, including inhibition of photosynthesis in germinating seedlings. Sorgoleone is not translocated acropetally in older plants, but can be absorbed through the hypocotyl and cotyledonary tissues. Therefore, the mode of action of sorgoleone may be the result of inhibition of photosynthesis in young seedlings in concert with inhibition of its other molecular target sites in older plants. Due to its hydrophobic nature, sorgoleone is strongly sorbed in soil which increases its persistence, but experiments show that it is mineralized by microorganisms over time.

MeSH terms

  • Benzoquinones / chemistry*
  • Benzoquinones / isolation & purification
  • Benzoquinones / pharmacology*
  • DNA, Complementary
  • Expressed Sequence Tags
  • Lipids / chemistry*
  • Lipids / genetics
  • Lipids / isolation & purification
  • Lipids / pharmacology*
  • Molecular Structure
  • Photosynthesis
  • Sorghum / chemistry
  • Sorghum / physiology


  • Benzoquinones
  • DNA, Complementary
  • Lipids
  • sorgoleone