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Abstract

Glucosinolates present classical examples of plant compounds affecting insect-plant interactions. They are found mainly in the family Brassicaceae, which includes several important crops. More than 120 different glucosinolates are known. The enzyme myrosinase, which is stored in specialized plant cells, converts glucosinolates to the toxic isothiocyanates. Insect herbivores may reduce the toxicity of glucosinolates and their products by excretion, detoxification, or behavioral adaptations. Glucosinolates also affect higher trophic levels, via reduced host or prey quality or because specialist herbivores may sequester glucosinolates for their own defense. There is substantial quantitative and qualitative variation between plant genotypes, tissues, and ontogenetic stages, which poses specific challenges to insect herbivores. Even though glucosinolates are constitutive defenses, their levels are influenced by abiotic and biotic factors including insect damage. Plant breeders may use knowledge on glucosinolates to increase insect resistance in crops. State-of-the-art techniques, such as mutant analysis and metabolomics, are necessary to identify the exact role of glucosinolates.

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/content/journals/10.1146/annurev.ento.54.110807.090623
2009-01-07
2024-06-14
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  • Article Type: Review Article
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