Ecdysteroids (ECs) are steroid hormones originally found in the animal kingdom where they function as insect molting hormones. Interestingly, a relatively high number of these substances can also be formed in plant cells. Moreover, ECs have certain regulatory effects on plant physiology, but their role in plants still requires further study. One of the main aims of the present study was to verify a hypothesis that fenarimol, an inhibitor of the biosynthesis of ECs in the animal kingdom, also affects the content of endogenous ECs in plants using winter wheat Triticum aestivum L. as a model plant. The levels of endogenous ECs in winter wheat, including the estimation of their changes during a course of different temperature treatments, have been determined using a sensitive analytical method based on UHPLC-MS/MS. Under our experimental conditions, four substances of EC character were detected in the tissue of interest in amounts ranging from less than 1 to over 200 pg·g-1 FW: 20-hydroxyecdysone, polypodine B, turkesterone, and isovitexirone. Among them, turkesterone was observed to be the most abundant EC and accumulated mainly in the crowns and leaves of wheat. Importantly, the level of ECs was observed to be dependent on the age of the plants, as well as on growth conditions (especially temperature). Fenarimol, an inhibitor of a cytochrome P450 monooxygenase, was shown to significantly decrease the level of naturally occurring ECs in experimental plants, which may indicate its potential use in studies related to the biosynthesis and physiological function of these substances in plants.
Keywords: cold acclimation; deacclimation; ecdysteroids; fenarimol; plant development; vernalization; winter wheat.