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Front. Plant Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fpls.2019.00353

Methylation at the C-3' in D-ring of Strigolactone Analogs Reduces Biological Activity in Root Parasitic Plants and Rice

 Salim Al-Babili1*,  Muhammad Jamil1,  Boubacar A. Kountche1,  Imran Haider1,  Jian Y. Wang1, Faisal Aldossary1, Randa A. Zarban1, Kun-Peng Jia1,  Djibril Yonli1,  Umar S. Hameed1, Ikuo Takahashi2, Tsuyoshi Ota2,  Stefan T. Arold1 and  Tadao Asami2
  • 1King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia
  • 2The University of Tokyo, Japan

Strigolactones (SLs) regulate plant development and induce seed germination in obligate root parasitic weeds, e.g. Striga spp. Because organic synthesis of natural SLs is laborious, there is a large need for easy-to-synthesize and efficient analogs. Here, we investigated the effect of a structural modification of the D-ring, a conserved structural element in SLs. We synthesized and investigated the activity of two analogs, MP13 and MP26, which differ from previously published AR8 and AR36 only in the absence of methylation at C-3'. The de-methylated MP13 and MP26 were much more efficient in regulating plant development and inducing Striga seed germination, compared with AR8. Hydrolysis assays performed with purified Striga SL receptor and docking of AR8 and MP13 to the corresponding active site confirmed and explained the higher activity. Field trials performed in a naturally Striga infested African farmer’s field unraveled MP13 as a promising candidate for combating Striga by inducing germination in host’s absence. Our findings demonstrate that methylation of the C-3' in D-ring in SL analogs has a negative impact on their activity and identify MP13 and, particularly, MP26 as potent SL analogs with simple structures, which can be employed to control Striga, a major threat to global food security.

Keywords: strigolactones, Striga hermonthica, Suicidal germination, shoot branching, Strigolactone analogs

Received: 14 Nov 2018; Accepted: 07 Mar 2019.

Edited by:

Yunde Zhao, University of California, San Diego, United States

Reviewed by:

Weiqiang Li, RIKEN, Japan
François-Didier Boyer, INRA Centre Versailles-Grignon, France  

Copyright: © 2019 Al-Babili, Jamil, Kountche, Haider, Wang, Aldossary, Zarban, Jia, Yonli, Hameed, Takahashi, Ota, Arold and Asami. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Salim Al-Babili, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia, Salim.Babili@KAUST.EDU.SA