First encounters – deployment of defence-related natural products by plants


Author for correspondence: Anne Osbourn Tel: +44 1603 450407 Fax: +44 1603 450011 Email:



  • Summary 193

  • I. Introduction 194
  • II. Natural product trafficking and plant disease resistance 195
  • III. Allelopathy 199
  • VI. Conclusions and future directions 203
  • Acknowledgements 204

  • References 204


Plant-derived natural products have important functions in ecological interactions. In some cases these compounds are deployed to sites of pathogen challenge by vesicle-mediated trafficking. Polar vesicle trafficking of natural products, proteins and other, as yet uncharacterized, cargo is emerging as a common theme in investigations of diverse disease resistance mechanisms in plants. Root-derived natural products can have marked effects on interactions between plants and soilborne organisms, for example by serving as signals for initiation of symbioses with rhizobia and mycorrhizal fungi. They may also contribute to competitiveness of invasive plant species by inhibiting the growth of neighbouring plants (allelopathy). Very little is known about the mechanisms of release of natural products from aerial plant parts or from roots, although there are likely to be commonalities in these processes. There is increasing evidence to indicate that pathogens and symbionts can manipulate plant endomembrane systems to suppress host defence responses and facilitate accommodation within plant cells. The relationship between secretory processes and plant interactions forms the focus of this review, which brings together different aspects of the deployment of defence-related natural products by plants.