Developmental fate of the cyanogenic glucoside linamarin in Costa Rican wild lima bean seeds


WHEN a seed germinates, we expect the defensive secondary compounds it contains to be transferred intact to the growing seedling, or variously decomposed to produce resources for the growing seedling. The seeds of wild indigenous Costa Rican lima beans (Phaseolus lunatus L.) contain about 3.45% fresh weight of linamarin1, a cyanogenic glucoside that can enzymatically decompose to produce 0.37% fresh weight hydrocyanic acid (HCN). We report here that, after germination, the amount of linamarin in the total seedling (roots, cotyledons, and shoots) remains essentially constant during a 26-day experimental period and moreover corresponds to the amount of linamarin present in the seed before germination (Fig. 1).

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CLEGG, D., CONN, E. & JANZEN, D. Developmental fate of the cyanogenic glucoside linamarin in Costa Rican wild lima bean seeds. Nature 278, 343–344 (1979).

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