A potential role of coumestrol in soybean leaf senescence and its interaction with phytohormones

Bong Gyu Mun, Hyun Ho Kim, Heung Joo Yuk, Adil Hussain, Gary John Loake, Byung Wook Yun*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Coumestrol is a natural organic compound synthesized in soy leaves and functions as a phytoalexin. The coumestrol levels in plants are reported to increase upon insect attack. This study investigates the correlation between coumestrol, senescence, and the effect of phytohormones on the coumestrol levels in soybean leaves. Our analysis involving high-performance liquid chromatography and 2-D gel electrophoresis indicated a significant difference in the biochemical composition of soybean leaves at various young and mature growth stages. Eight chemical compounds were specifically detected in young leaves (V1) only, whereas three different coumestans isotrifoliol, coumestrol, and phaseol were detected only in mature, yellow leaves of the R6 and R7 growth stage. MALDI-TOF-MS analysis was used to identify two proteins 3,9 -dihydroxypterocarpan 6A-monooxygenase (CYP93A1) and isoflavone reductase homolog 2 (IFR2) only in mature leaves, which are key components of the coumestrol biosynthetic pathway. This indicates that senescence in soybean is linked to the accumulation of coumestrol. Following the external application of coumestrol, the detached V1-stage young leaves turned yellow and showed an interesting development of roots at the base of the midrib. Additionally, the application of phytohormones, including SA, methyl jasmonate (MeJA), and ethephon alone and in various combinations induced yellowing within 5 days of the application with a concomitant significant increase in endogenous coumestrol accumulation. This was also accompanied by a significant increase in the expression of genes CYP81E28 (Gm08G089500), CYP81E22 (Gm16G149300), GmIFS1, and GmIFS2. These results indicate that various coumestans, especially coumestrol, accumulate during leaf maturity, or senescence in soybean.

Original languageEnglish
Article number756308
Number of pages11
JournalFrontiers in plant science
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2021


  • coumestans
  • coumestrol
  • phytohormones
  • senescence (leaf)
  • soybean


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