Mechanisms of resistance to self-produced toxic secondary metabolites in plants

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Plants produce a variety of secondary metabolites to protect themselves from pathogens and herbivores and/or to influence the growth of neighbouring plants. Some of these metabolites are toxic to the producing cells when their target sites are present in the producing organisms. Therefore, a specific self-resistance mechanism must exist in these plants. Self-resistance mechanisms, including extracellular excretion, vacuolar sequestration, vesicle transport, extracellular biosynthesis, and accumulation of the metabolite in a non-toxic form, have been proposed thus far. Recently, a new mechanism involving mutation of the target protein of the toxic metabolite has been elucidated. We review here the mechanisms that plants use to prevent self-toxicity from the following representative compounds: cannabinoids, flavonoids, diterpene sclareol, alkaloids, benzoxazinones, phenylpropanoids, cyanogenic glycosides, and glucosinolates.

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