Identification of a drimenol synthase and drimenol oxidase from Persicaria hydropiper, involved in the biosynthesis of insect deterrent drimanes

M.G.L. Henquet*, N. Prota, J.J.J. van der Hooft, M. Varbanova, R.J.M. Hulzink, M. de Vos, M. Prins, M.T.J. de Both, M.C.R. Franssen, H.J. Bouwmeester, M.A. Jongsma

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


The sesquiterpenoid polygodial, belonging to the drimane family, has been shown to be an antifeedant for a number of herbivorous insects. It is presumed to be synthesized from farnesyl diphosphate via drimenol, subsequent C-12 hydroxylation, and further oxidations at both C-11 and C-12 to form a dialdehyde. Here, we have identified a drimenol synthase (PhDS) and a cytochrome P450 drimenol oxidase (PhDOX1) from Persicaria hydropiper. Expression of PhDS in yeast and plants resulted in production of drimenol only. Co-expression of PhDS with PhDOX1 in yeast yielded drimendiol, the 12-hydroxylation product of drimenol, as a major product, and cinnamolide. When PhDS and PhDOX1 were transiently expressed by agro-infiltration in Nicotiana benthamiana leaves, drimenol was almost completely converted into cinnamolide and several additional drimenol derivatives were observed. In vitro assays showed that PhDOX1 only catalyzes the conversion from drimenol to drimendiol, and not the further oxidation into an aldehyde. In yeast and heterologous plant hosts, the C-12 position of drimendiol is therefore likely further oxidized by endogenous enzymes into an aldehyde and subsequently converted to cinnamolide, presumably by spontaneous hemiacetal formation with the C-11 hydroxyl group followed by oxidation. Purified cinnamolide was confirmed by NMR and shown to be deterrent with an effective deterrent dose (ED50 ) of ~200-400 μg gFW-1 against both whiteflies and aphids. The putative additional physiological and biochemical requirements for polygodial biosynthesis and stable storage in plant tissues are discussed
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1052-1063
JournalThe Plant Journal
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • cinnamolide
  • CYP76AJ1
  • drimane sequiterpenes
  • drimendiol
  • drimenol
  • insect deterrent
  • Persicaria hydropiper


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