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Moser, Simone; Kraeutler, Bernhard (2019): In Search of Bioactivity - Phyllobilins, an Unexplored Class of Abundant Heterocyclic Plant Metabolites from Breakdown of Chlorophyll. In: Israel Journal of Chemistry, Vol. 59, No. 5: pp. 420-431
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The fate of the green plant pigment chlorophyll (Chl) in de-greening leaves has long been a fascinating biological puzzle. In the course of the last three decades, various bilin-type products of Chl breakdown have been identified, named phyllobilins (PBs). Considered mere' leftovers of a controlled biological Chl detoxification originally, the quest for finding relevant bioactivities of the PBs has become a new paradigm. Indeed, the PBs are abundant in senescent leaves, in ripe fruit and in some vegetables, and they display an exciting array of diverse heterocyclic structures. This review outlines briefly which types of Chl breakdown products occur in higher plants, describes basics of their bio-relevant structural and chemical properties and gives suggestions as to why' the plants produce vast amounts of uniquely decorated' heterocyclic compounds. Clearly, it is worthwhile to consider crucial metabolic roles of PBs in plants, which may have practical consequences in agriculture and horticulture. However, PBs are also part of our plant-based nutrition and their physiological and pharmacological effects in humans are of interest, as well.