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Studies of simple phenols in plants : 1. Phenolic acids in ferns. 2. The uptake of phenolic compounds by Pityrogramma calomelanos and Hordeum vulgare. 3. The phenol Glucosylation reaction in higher plants Glass, Anthony David Melville

Abstract

I. Systematic studies of the distribution of phenolic acids have been largely restricted to angiosperm families. This survey of forty-six species of ferns extended the work begun by Bohm and Tryon, and brought the total number of species examined to ninety-two. p-Coumaric acid, caffeic acid, ferulic acid, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, protocatechuic acid, and vanillic acid were found to be widespread. A time study of the concentrations of these compounds in Pteridium aquilinum and Athyrlum fellx-femina suggests that certain of these acids undergo considerable turnover during the growing season. II. Kinetic studies of the uptake of hydroquinone glucoside by roots of Hordeum vulgare and by gametophytes of Pityrogramma calomelanos showed that this compound is actively transported, and suggested that catechol glucoside is absorbed by a similar mechanism. Hydroquinone exhibited a different pattern of uptake which possessed some of the features of an active system. The latter compound is absorbed by passive diffusion. A concentration gradient favouring diffusion is maintained by the conversion of this phenol to its corresponding glucoside. III. A survey of twenty-nine species of ferns showed that these plants, like flowering plants, are capable of glucosylating administered phenols. Certain acidic compounds, identified by J.B. Pridham as phenolic glucoside-6-sulphates, are formed when simple phenols such as hydroquinone, catechol, resorcinol, etc., are administered to germinating seeds of Vicia faba. The present studies indicate that these compounds are commonly formed when simple phenols are administered to higher plants. Since Pridham’s identification was based upon the identification of hydrolysis products, without reference to authentic compounds, and since several of the properties of the supposed sulphates were inconsistent with the known properties of sugar sulphates, arbutin-6-sulphate was chemically synthesized. Comparisons of the properties of this authentic compound with the natural product showed that the two compounds were quite dissimilar and therefore suggest that Pridham’s identification was incorrect.

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