I

Aminotriazole

OH IGP

OH IGP

PO3H

OH IRL 1695

OH IRL 1695

PO3H2 N

PO3H2 N

PO3H2

OH IRL 1803

PO3H2

OH IRL 1803

PO3H2

HO CH3 IRL 1856

PO3H2

HO CH3 IRL 1856

Figure 9.11 The structures of histidine, aminotriazole, IGP and three triazole phosphates reported by Mori et al. (1995) to be inhibitors of IGP dehydratase.

and it is perhaps not surprising that it appears to affect a number of metabolic processes in higher plants.

Inhibition of IGP dehydratase has formed the basis for the design of three triazole phosphates that can inhibit histidine biosynthesis in plants (Mori et al., 1995). These compounds were produced by 'rational design', based upon the substrate of IGP dehydratase, namely imidazole glycerol phosphate. All three compounds exhibited herbicidal activity in both cell cultures and intact plants. This activity was attributed to inhibition of histidine biosynthesis rather than other metabolic processes. As such, histidine biosynthesis inhibitors may prove to be a mode of action for a number of commercial herbicides in the future. 'Rational design' of herbicides is a process that has received much attention but has rarely proved successful. The report by Mori and colleagues (1995) is therefore an exciting one, demonstrating that herbicides by design rather than large-scale compound screening can yield positive results.

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