Phytotoxic activity and structure-activity relationships of radicinin derivatives against the invasive weed buffelgrass (Cenchrus ciliaris).
Radicinin (1), is a fungal dihydropyranopyran-4,5-dione isolated together with some analogues, namely 3-epi-radicinin, radicinol, 3-epi-radicinol, and cochliotoxin (2-5), from the culture filtrates of the fungus Cochliobolus australiensis, a foliar pathogen of buffelgrass (Cenchrus ciliaris), an invasive weed in North America. Among the different metabolites 1 showed target-specific activity against the host plant and no toxicity on zebrafish embryos, promoting its potential use to develop a natural bioherbicide formulation to manage buffelgrass. These data and the peculiar structural feature of 1 suggested to carry out a structure-activity relationship study, preparing some key hemisynthetic derivatives and to test their phytotoxicity. In particular, p-bromobenzoyl, 5-azidopentanoyl, stearoyl, mesyl and acetyl esters of radicinin were semisynthesized as well as the monoacetyl ester of 3-epi-radicinin, the diacetyl esters of radicinol and its 3 epimer, and two hexa-hydro derivatives of radicinin. The spectroscopic characterization and the activity by leaf puncture bioassay against buffelgrass of all the derivatives is reported. Most of the compounds showed phytotoxicity but none of them had comparable or higher activity than radicinin. Thus, the presence of an α,β unsaturated carbonyl group at C-4, as well as, the presence of a free secondary hydroxyl group at C-3 and the stereochemistry of the same carbon proved to be the essential feature for activity.