Root uptake of cereal benzoxazinoids grants resistance to root-knot nematode invasion in white clover

Jawameer Hama, Inge S. Fomsgaard, Olivera Topalovic, Mette Vestergård Madsen*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Plants synthesize a plethora of chemical defence compounds, which vary between evolutionary lineages. We hypothesize that plants evolved the ability to utilize defence compounds synthesized and released by neighbouring heterospecific plants. In two experiments, we incubated clover (Trifolium repens L.) seedlings with individual benzoxazinoid (BX) compounds (2,4-dihydroxy-1,4-benzoxazin-3-one, 2-hydroxy-1,4-benzoxazin-3-one, benzoxazolinone, and 6-methoxy- benzoxazolin-2-one), a group of bioactive compounds produced by cereals, to allow clover BX uptake. Subsequently, we transplanted the seedlings into soil and quantified BX root and shoot content and invasion of root-knot nematodes in clover roots up to 8 weeks after transplantation. We show that clover root uptake of BXs substantially enhanced clover's resistance against the root-knot nematode Meloidogyne incognita. This effect lasted up to 6 weeks after the clover roots were exposed to the BXs. BXs were absorbed by clover roots, and then translocated to the shoots. As a result of clover metabolization, we detected the parent BXs and a range of their transformation products in the roots and shoots. Based on these novel findings, we envisage that co-cultivation of crop species with complementary and transferable chemical defence systems can add to plant protection.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108636
JournalPlant Physiology and Biochemistry
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - May 2024


  • Co-cropping
  • Defence metabolites
  • LC-MS/MS
  • Meloidogyne
  • Metabolization
  • Neighbour effects
  • Trifolium
  • Edible Grain/parasitology
  • Disease Resistance
  • Tylenchoidea/physiology
  • Plant Diseases/parasitology
  • Animals
  • Trifolium/metabolism
  • Plant Shoots/metabolism
  • Benzoxazines/metabolism
  • Plant Roots/parasitology


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