Bioactive Phyto-aromatics

Plant growth and development are tightly regulated by signaling compounds, which are present within the plant at extremely low concentrations. The molecular mechanisms for several of these compounds, among which the phytohormones auxin and cytokinin, are being extensively studied. However, for others the underlying mode of action remains unknown. It is the mission of our team, to gain a more profound understanding of the interplay between phenylpropanoids and phytohormones. One of the phenylpropanoid compounds of which we are investigating the underlying molecular mechanism is cinnamic acid, a molecule which exists in two isoforms. The trans-isomer is a crucial intermediate within the phenylpropanoid pathway, which is a plant-specific pathway leading to the production of important secundary metabolites such as coumarins, stilbenes, and monolignols. Under influence of UV-B light, the trans-isomer is converted into the cis-isomer. In contrast to trans-cinnamic acid, cis-cinnamic acid has biological activity and acts as a natural inhibitor of the cellular auxin efflux.