Efficient Mimics for Elucidating Zaxinone Biology and Promoting Agricultural Applications

Jian You Wang, Muhammad Jamil, Pei-Yu Lin, Tsuyoshi Ota, Valentina Fiorilli, Mara Novero, Randa Alhassan Yahya Zarban, Boubacar Amadou Kountche, Ikuo Takahashi, Claudio Martínez, Luisa Lanfranco, Paola Bonfante, Angel R. de Lera, Tadao Asami, Salim Al-Babili

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Zaxinone is an apocarotenoid regulatory metabolite required for normal rice growth and development. In addition, zaxinone has a large application potential in agriculture, due to its growth promoting activity and capability to alleviate infestation by the root parasitic plant Striga through decreasing strigolactone (SL) production. However, zaxinone is poorly accessible to the scientific community because of its laborious organic synthesis that impedes its further investigation and utilization. Here, we developed easy-to-synthesize and highly efficient mimics of zaxinone (MiZax). We performed a structure-activity-relationship study using a series of apocarotenoids distinguished from zaxinone by different structural features. Using the obtained results, we designed several phenyl-based compounds synthesized with a high-yield through a simple method. Activity tests showed that MiZax3 and MiZax5 exert zaxinone activity in rescuing root growth of a zaxinone-deficient rice mutant, promoting growth, and reducing SL content in roots and root exudates of wild-type plants. Moreover, these compounds were at least as efficient as zaxinone in suppressing transcript level of SL biosynthesis genes and in alleviating Striga infestation under greenhouse conditions, and did not negatively impact mycorrhization. Taken together, MiZax are a promising tool for elucidating zaxinone biology and investigating rice development, and suitable candidates for combating Striga and increasing crop growth.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalMolecular Plant
StatePublished - Aug 21 2020


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