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Anita Kumari, 
Varun Kumar, 
Rinat Ovadia, 
Michal Oren-Shamir

Phenylalanine has a unique role in plants as a source of a wide range of specialized metabolites, named phenylpropanoids that contribute to the adjustment of plants to changing developmental and environmental conditions. The profile of these metabolites differs between plants and plant organs. Some of the prominent phenylpropanoids include anthocyanins, phenolic acids, flavonoidstannins, stilbenes, lignins, glucosinolates and benzenoid phenylpropanoid volatiles. Phenylalanine biosynthesis, leading to increased phenylpropanoid levels, is induced under stress. However, high availability of phenylalanine in plants under non-stressed conditions can be achieved either by genetically engineering plants to overproduce phenylalanine, or by external treatment of whole plants or detached plant organs with phenylalanine solutions. The objective of this review is to portray the many effects that increased phenylalanine availability has in plants under non-stressed conditions, focusing mainly on external applications. These applications include spraying and drenching whole plants with phenylalanine solutions, postharvest treatments by dipping fruit and cut flower stems, and addition of phenylalanine to cell suspensions. The results of these treatments include increased fragrance in flowers, increased aroma and pigmentation in fruit, increased production of health promoting metabolites in plant cell cultures, and increased resistance of plants, pre- and post-harvest, to a wide variety of pathogens. These effects suggest that plants can very efficiently uptake phenylalanine from their roots, leaves, flowers and fruits, translocate it from one organ to the other and between cell compartments, and metabolize it into phenylpropanoids. The mechanisms by which Phe treatment increases plant resistance to pathogens reveal new roles of phenylpropanoids in induction of genes related to the plant immune system. The simplicity of treatments with phenylalanine open many possibilities for industrial use. Many of the phenylalanine-treatment effects on increased resistance to plant pathogens have also been successful in commercial field trials.

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Phenylalanine in motion: A tale of an essential molecule with many faces
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Anita Kumari, 
Varun Kumar, 
Rinat Ovadia, 
Michal Oren-Shamir

Phenylalanine in motion: A tale of an essential molecule with many faces

Phenylalanine has a unique role in plants as a source of a wide range of specialized metabolites, named phenylpropanoids that contribute to the adjustment of plants to changing developmental and environmental conditions. The profile of these metabolites differs between plants and plant organs. Some of the prominent phenylpropanoids include anthocyanins, phenolic acids, flavonoidstannins, stilbenes, lignins, glucosinolates and benzenoid phenylpropanoid volatiles. Phenylalanine biosynthesis, leading to increased phenylpropanoid levels, is induced under stress. However, high availability of phenylalanine in plants under non-stressed conditions can be achieved either by genetically engineering plants to overproduce phenylalanine, or by external treatment of whole plants or detached plant organs with phenylalanine solutions. The objective of this review is to portray the many effects that increased phenylalanine availability has in plants under non-stressed conditions, focusing mainly on external applications. These applications include spraying and drenching whole plants with phenylalanine solutions, postharvest treatments by dipping fruit and cut flower stems, and addition of phenylalanine to cell suspensions. The results of these treatments include increased fragrance in flowers, increased aroma and pigmentation in fruit, increased production of health promoting metabolites in plant cell cultures, and increased resistance of plants, pre- and post-harvest, to a wide variety of pathogens. These effects suggest that plants can very efficiently uptake phenylalanine from their roots, leaves, flowers and fruits, translocate it from one organ to the other and between cell compartments, and metabolize it into phenylpropanoids. The mechanisms by which Phe treatment increases plant resistance to pathogens reveal new roles of phenylpropanoids in induction of genes related to the plant immune system. The simplicity of treatments with phenylalanine open many possibilities for industrial use. Many of the phenylalanine-treatment effects on increased resistance to plant pathogens have also been successful in commercial field trials.

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