Organic synthesis and fungicidal activity of oxylipin-based compounds

  • Yi Zhou

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Previous research has shown that the naturally occurring reactive electrophilic species (RES), 12-oxophytodienoic acid (OPDA), not only serves as a precursor for jasmonic acid but is also a potent antifungal compound. However, both the low amount present in plants and the multistep synthesis required to produce this compound on a scale viable for agrochemical use currently limits its practical value. The aim of this research was to generate a range of molecular mimics of OPDA with a minimum number of synthetic steps and screen for antifungal activity. Synthetic 4-octyl-cyclopentenone containing the cyclopentenone ring and an eight carbon alkyl chain was found to show the highest in vitro antifungal activity against C. herbarum and B. cinerea with minimum inhibition concentration (MIC) of 100-200µM. This indicates that structurally simplified 4-octyl-cyclopentenone can be successfully synthesised to mimic the antifungal activity of OPDA against specific fungal strains. Application of 4-octyl-cyclopentenone could act as surfactant by disrupting and disorganising the lipid membrane non-specifically, resulting in the leakage of potassium ions, which was the proposed mode of action of this compound. However, the sensitivity of fungi to this compound is not correlated to the lipid composition of fungal spores. (E)-2-alkenals were also studied for their antimicrobial activity and (E)-2-undecenal was found to have the highest antimicrobial activity against a range of pathogens. The hydrophilic moiety (the a,ß-unsaturated carbonyl group), common to both (E)-2-undecenal and 4-octyl-cyclentenone is essential to their bioactivity, and the hydrophobic moiety plays an important role in their antimicrobial activities. 4-Octyl-cyclopentenone showed no visible toxicity to the test plant, Arabidopsis thaliana, suggesting that its high antifungal activity against Botrytis and Cladosporium could be exploited for commercialisation as a new generation of agrochemical.
Date of Award18 Jan 2011
Original languageEnglish


  • fungicides
  • oxylipins
  • OPDA
  • RES

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