An amino acid ester of menthol elicits defense responses in plants

Chisato Tsuzuki, Masakazu Hachisu, Rihoko Iwabe, Yuna Nakayama, Yoko Nonaga, Satoru Sukegawa, Shigeomi Horito, Gen ichiro Arimura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Key message: Valine menthyl ester (ment-Val) acts as a plant defense potentiator for several crop species including soybean. Abstract: Terpenoids, including menthol, exhibit potent abilities as plant defense potentiators in agriculture and horticulture. In the current study, we developed new terpene derivatives that consisted of menthol and various amino acids and that were expected to act as powerful plant defense potentiators. We used 6 amino acids possessing low-reactive sidechains to synthesize an array of amino acid ester of menthol (ment-aa) compounds. Transcript levels of two defense genes (pathogenesis-related protein 1 [PR1] and trypsin inhibitor [TI]) were evaluated in leaves of soybean plants 24 h after application of aquatic solution of menthol or menthol-aa, and revealed that the valine menthyl ester (ment-Val) alone elevated the transcript level of defense genes, and it did so only at the low dose of 1 µM, not at higher or lower doses tested. Moreover, it appeared that histone acetylation was involved in this effect. Application of ment-Val enabled soybean plants to sustain the increased transcript levels in their leaves for up to 3 days. Moreover, when ment-Val was additionally applied at day 4, at which time the transcript level had declined to the basal level, the transcript level was re-elevated, indicating the possibility that ment-Val could be repeatedly used to sustain pest control. Ment-Val was found to be chemically stable and effective for defense of several crop species. Collectively, these data show that terpenoid conjugates are useful for pest control instead of or in addition to pesticides.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPlant Molecular Biology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Defense genes
  • Plant defense potentiator
  • Soybean
  • Valine menthyl ester (ment-Val)


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