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Glucosinolates are plant secondary metabolites composed of a thioglucose group and an amino acid side-chain. They occur in the Brassicaceae and related families. A wide variety of glucosinolates exists owing to modification of the side-chain structure. Following tissue damage, myrosinase enzymes catalyse the decomposition of glucosinolates to a variety of volatile and nonvolatile products. The genetic control of concentration and side-chain modification of aliphatic glucosinolates, which have side-chains derived from methionine, are simple and well known from work on Arabidopsis and Brassica crops. In controlled conditions in the laboratory or in field trials, many aliphatic glucosinolates, or their degradation products, affect the behaviour of herbivores. For these reasons, we suggest that polymorphism for aliphatic glucosinolates in natural populations offers an attractive system for the study of ecological genetics of plant-herbivore interactions.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





383 - 391


Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Winfrith Technology Centre, Dorchester, Dorset DT2 8ZD, UK.


Animals, Plants, Brassica, Crops, Agricultural, Glucosinolates, Predatory Behavior, Food Chain, Polymorphism, Genetic, Host-Parasite Interactions, Genetic Variation