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Patterns of phenolic compounds in leafy galls of tobacco


The chemical composition of ethanolic and aqueous extracts from leafy galls produced after infection of Nicotiana tabacum L. plants with Rhodococcus fascians was drastically changed compared to uninfected controls. Chlorogenic acid was abundant both in uninfected and infected plants, but caffeic acid and another cinnamoyl analogue were new in leafy galls. The most pronounced product induced in leafy galls was identified as 7-O-methyl-6-O-β-D-glucopyranosyl coumarin (7-methyl esculin). This is the first report of the presence of this coumarin derivative in tobacco. Interestingly, 7-methyl esculin did not accumulate in the presence of avirulent R. fascians strains nor was it found in leafy galls on other plant species. However, it did appear in crown galls induced by Agrobacterium tumefaciens on tobacco plants. Intriguingly, none of the phenolics known to accumulate in Solanaceae under pathogen attack were found in leafy galls. 7-Methyl esculin barely affected growth of R. fascians nor was it catabolized. Microscopical analysis showed that autofluorescent compounds were located mainly in the abundant meristematic regions of the leafy galls. We postulate that 7-methyl esculin might locally influence plant cell division.

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electrospray ionization mass spectrometry


proton nuclear magnetic resonance


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Correspondence to Marc Van Montagu.

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Vereecke, D., Messens, E., Klarskov, K. et al. Patterns of phenolic compounds in leafy galls of tobacco. Planta 201, 342–348 (1997).

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Key words

  • Defense response (plants)
  • Leafy galls
  • 7-Methyl esculin
  • Nicotiana
  • Rhodococcus