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CABI Book Chapter

Amino acids in higher plants.

Book cover for Amino acids in higher plants.


This book, divided into 5 parts, deals with topics on amino acids in higher plants. Part I (enzymes and metabolism) contains 16 chapters pursuing the theme of amino acid metabolism through the driving actions of the principal enzymes, emphasizing recent advances particularly with reference to localization, biophysical characterization and regulation. Part II (dynamics) includes two chapters design...


Chapter 27 (Page no: 507)

Toxicology of non-protein amino acids.

The appearance of a wide range of non-protein amino acids in foliage, fruits, seeds and root exudates is an important expression of secondary metabolism in higher plants. The ubiquitous distribution of these amino acids is exemplified by their presence in food and forage plants, as well as in temperate and tropical species. Canavanine occurs widely in legumes such as Canavalia ensiformis, Medicago sativa, Gliricidia sepium, Dioclea megacarpa and Robinia pseudocacia. Significant concentrations of the selenoamino acids and of S-methylcysteine sulfoxide are present in Brassica oleracea, including broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and kale. In contrast, the signalling agonists β-N-oxalylamino-L-alanine and β-N-methylamino-L-alanine occur in unrelated species, namely Lathyrus sativus and Cycas circinalis, respectively, while γ-aminobutyrate accumulates in plants in response to biotic and environmental stimuli. The aromatic amino acid, mimosine, occurs primarily in Leucaena leucocephala, a tropical legume yielding timber and prolific quantities of palatable forage. Of all the non-protein amino acids cited in this chapter, hypoglycin is unique in its natural distribution; two forms, hypoglycin A and its glutamyl derivative, hypoglycin B, occur in the arils of the unripe fruit of Blighia sapida. Representative examples of non-protein amino acids have been selected for review to emphasize the relationship between allelochemical activity and toxicity in diverse living organisms. Canavanine and its metabolites in the canaline-urea cycle share striking structural analogy with corresponding amino acids in the ornithine-urea cycle. Additive and synergistic phytotoxic effects of canaline-urea cycle amino acids are reversed by their respective analogues in the ornithine-urea cycle. A similar canavanine-arginine antagonism has been demonstrated in insects and higher animals. Equally noteworthy are the structural analogues of the sulfur amino acids. On replacement of the sulfur atom with selenium, a wide range of congeners are formed, notably selenomethionine, Se-methylselenocysteine and Se-allylselenocysteine. It is universally recognized that the selenoamino acids are toxic to both plants and animals, their effects being characterized by inability to thrive. Selenoamino acids interfere with cellular biochemical reactions, and methionine status decreases with the accumulation of tissue selenomethionine in plants. Another analogue, S-methylcysteine sulfoxide, is associated with haemolytic anaemia in ruminant animals. Both β-N-methylamino-L-alanine and γ-aminobutyrate affect plant development; however, in humans, the former amino acid, together with β-N-oxalylamino-L-alanine, have been implicated, respectively, in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Parkinsonism dementia (or Guam dementia) and in neurolathyrism. The phytotoxicity of mimosine is now unequivocal and with wide-ranging effects, including inhibition of seed germination, root growth, lignification and key enzymes. Mimosine is also detrimental to animals, but the effects in ruminants are modulated by differences in microbial ecology. In contrast, hypoglycin is specifically associated with the seasonal incidence of a human disorder known as 'vomiting sickness'.

Other chapters from this book

Chapter: 1 (Page no: 1) Glutamate dehydrogenase. Author(s): Osuji, G. O. Madu, W. C.
Chapter: 2 (Page no: 30) Alanine aminotransferase: amino acid metabolism in higher plants. Author(s): Raychaudhuri, A.
Chapter: 3 (Page no: 57) Aspartate aminotransferase. Author(s): Leasure, C. D. He, Z. H.
Chapter: 4 (Page no: 68) Tyrosine aminotransferase. Author(s): Hudson, A. O.
Chapter: 5 (Page no: 82) An insight into the role and regulation of glutamine synthetase in plants. Author(s): Sengupta-Gopalan, C. Ortega, J. L.
Chapter: 6 (Page no: 100) Asparagine synthetase. Author(s): Duff, S. M. G.
Chapter: 7 (Page no: 129) Glutamate decarboxylase. Author(s): Molina-Rueda, J. J. Garrido-Aranda, A. Gallardo, F.
Chapter: 8 (Page no: 142) L-arginine-dependent nitric oxide synthase activity. Author(s): Corpas, F. J. Río, L. A. del Palma, J. M. Barroso, J. B.
Chapter: 9 (Page no: 156) Ornithine: at the crossroads of multiple paths to amino acids and polyamines. Author(s): Majumdar, R. Minocha, R. Minocha, S. C.
Chapter: 10 (Page no: 177) Polyamines in plants: biosynthesis from arginine, and metabolic, physiological and stress-response roles. Author(s): Mattoo, A. K. Fatima, T. Upadhyay, R. K. Handa, A. K.
Chapter: 11 (Page no: 195) Serine acetyltransferase. Author(s): Watanabe, M. Hubberten, H. M. Saito, K. Hoefgen, R.
Chapter: 12 (Page no: 219) Cysteine homeostasis. Author(s): García, I. Romero, L. C. Gotor, C.
Chapter: 13 (Page no: 234) Lysine metabolism. Author(s): Medici, L. O. Nazareno, A. C. Gaziola, S. A. Schmidt, D. Azevedo, R. A.
Chapter: 14 (Page no: 251) Histidine. Author(s): Ingle, R. A.
Chapter: 15 (Page no: 262) Amino acid synthesis under abiotic stress. Author(s): Planchet, E. Limami, A. M.
Chapter: 16 (Page no: 277) The central role of glutamate and aspartate in the post-translational control of respiration and nitrogen assimilation in plant cells. Author(s): O'Leary, B. Plaxton, W. C.
Chapter: 17 (Page no: 298) Amino acid export in plants. Author(s): Price, M. B. Okumoto, S.
Chapter: 18 (Page no: 315) Uptake, transport and redistribution of amino nitrogen in woody plants. Author(s): Pfautsch, S. Bell, T. L. Gessler, A.
Chapter: 19 (Page no: 340) Auxin biosynthesis. Author(s): Chandler, J. W.
Chapter: 20 (Page no: 362) Involvement of tryptophan-pathway-derived secondary metabolism in the defence responses of grasses. Author(s): Ishihara, A. Matsukawa, T. Nomura, T. Sue, M. Oikawa, A. Okazaki, Y. Tebayashi, S.
Chapter: 21 (Page no: 390) Melatonin: synthesis from tryptophan and its role in higher plant. Author(s): Arnao, M. B. Hernández-Ruiz, J.
Chapter: 22 (Page no: 436) Glucosinolate biosynthesis from amino acids. Author(s): Stotz, H. U. Brown, P. D. Tokuhisa, J.
Chapter: 23 (Page no: 448) Natural toxins that affect plant amino acid metabolism. Author(s): Duke, S. O. Dayan, F. E.
Chapter: 24 (Page no: 461) Glyphosate: the fate and toxicology of a herbicidal amino acid derivative. Author(s): Saltmiras, D. A. Farmer, D. R. Mehrsheikh, A. Bleeke, M. S.
Chapter: 25 (Page no: 481) Amino acid analysis of plant products. Author(s): Rutherfurd, S. M.
Chapter: 26 (Page no: 497) Metabolic amino acid availability in foods of plant origin: implications for human and livestock nutrition. Author(s): Levesque, C. L.
Chapter: 28 (Page no: 538) Delivering innovative solutions and paradigms for a changing environment. Author(s): D'Mello, J. P. F.

Chapter details

  • Author Affiliation
  • Formerly of SAC (Scottish Agricultural College), University of Edinburgh King's Buildings Campus, West Mains Road, Edinburgh, EH9 3JG, UK.
  • Year of Publication
  • 2015
  • ISBN
  • 9781780642635
  • Record Number
  • 20153121437