Research Topic

Physiology and cellular mechanisms of isothiocyanates and other glucosinolate degradation products in plants

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Isothiocyanates in plants are produced from sulphur-containing glucosinolates and there is growing evidence that they have multiple roles in plants. Traditionally glucosinolates and isothiocyanates (ITCs) have been associated with “the mustard oil bomb” (“Die Senfölbombe”) such named by P. Matile in 1980, but ...

Isothiocyanates in plants are produced from sulphur-containing glucosinolates and there is growing evidence that they have multiple roles in plants. Traditionally glucosinolates and isothiocyanates (ITCs) have been associated with “the mustard oil bomb” (“Die Senfölbombe”) such named by P. Matile in 1980, but described already nearly hundred years earlier by E. Heinricher and L. Guignard. The mustard oil bomb refers to the release of pungent isothiocyanates (“mustard oils”) upon wounding of plants from Capparales and among them mostly studied in species of the family Brassicaceae to whom also the genus Arabidopsis belong.

A role of isothiocyanates in plant defence against pests and pathogens has been thoroughly documented and multiple other roles/functions for glucosinolates suggested. These include among others a role as allelochemical and in sulphur storage, water transport, heat tolerance, stomatal regulation, diurnal oscillation, apoptosis, growth inhibition and signalling.

There are thousands of papers on cellular effects of isothiocyanates using ITC in microbial and animal/human cell studies. This includes a large body of data on ITC chemopreventive effects in cancer models and on cytotoxicity against bacteria, fungi, nematodes and insects. In comparison there are much fewer results reported on physiological and cellular activities of ITCs in plant models. The aim is therefore to preferably illuminate the role of ITCs and other glucosinolate degradation products like nitriles and epithionitriles in plants.

In this research topic we encourage authors to contribute to illuminate the role of ITCs and other glucosinolate degradation products in plants and plant cells. We welcome you to submit reviews, perspective articles, method papers and original research articles to highlight recent progress on the physiological, cellular and molecular mechanisms involving ITCs and other glucosinolate degradation products in plants.


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