The Ability to Inhibit Metabolic Pathways

Subject: Science
Type: Informative Essay
Pages: 5
Word count: 1486
Topics: Agriculture, Chemistry, Ecology
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Cells daily functions are attained through the biochemical reactions that happen inside the cell. The cells immediate needs and general purposes determine the speed of reactions as they can be either sped up or slowed down. The component that is used to speed up the responses in a cell is known as an enzyme. There are many pathways involved in the building up and breaking down of cellular components; these numerous channels must be coordinated and monitored to achieve good results and balance.  Another reason for controlling the pathways is to ensure that the only chemical reactions that occur within a cell do not limit its chances of survival.  In the case of unwanted plants, the growth of plant cells is controlled by inhibiting its growth, therefore, achieving the overall control goal. This goal of balance is made by the cells organizing the reactions into different enzyme-powered pathways, and the importance, thus, is killing pathogens and correcting metabolic imbalances. An inhibitor can either hinder an enzyme from catalyzing their reactions or by stopping a substrate from entering enzymes active site.

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My chosen compound is glyphosate. Glyphosate is a crop desiccant and a systemic herbicide that is usually used to get rid of weeds especially grasses that compete with food crops. Glyphosate is absorbed through foliage and through roots, and therefore it is only useful in already growing plants. The fact that it is only useful in an already existing plant means that it cannot stop seeds from germinating. Glyphosate, just like all the other amino acids, exists in various ionic states that are dependent on the different PH levels. Glyphosate gets rid of weed cover by restricting the synthesis of amino acids such as phenylalanine, tryptophan, and tyrosine in the shikimate pathway. The amino acid is very efficient in killing a wide variety of plants such as grasses, woody plants, and broadleaf weeds.  In many places, glyphosate can be used in sidewalks to control the plant cover within that area. In agriculture and horticulture, glyphosate is used to kill the weeds that may affect the growth of all the other crops. The amino acid may also be used in the various crevices, cracks, pavements, and houses to eradicate the weed cover.  However, there are some crops, which are resistant to glyphosate and they include maize, canola, sugar, cotton, and wheat among others. The reasons why some of these plants are resistant to glyphosate is because they are genetically modified. Another reason why some crops are resistant to glyphosate is that of the widespread use of the herbicide. Glyphosate is an acid molecule, and therefore it is formulated as salt that contains added surfactants, which enable it to penetrate plant cuticles. The acid molecule has been widely used around the world by farmers to clear weeds and to finish plant cover where the government does not require it. After some hours of application, the leaves of the plants where glyphosate has been applied turn yellow and the plant then dies. It interferes with the synthesis of various amino acids in the plant, therefore, leading to the death of that particular plant. The amino acid is also soluble in water, but the water’s temperature is required to be room temperature.  The application of glyphosate on plants is spraying the dissolved salt on the area, which the plant cover is expected to be eradicated.

The pathway that glyphosate inhibits is known as the shikimate pathway. Glyphosate works as a competitive inhibitor in all the aromatic compounds.  The shikimate pathway is a target for antimicrobial designs because it is the only pathway that allows a route for the synthesis of aromatic compounds. The shikimate pathway has once been thought to only exist in plants, and it was associated with chloroplasts and fungi because it is highly dependent on the molecular arrangement of enzymes and the phylogeny present. Plants with three-dehydroquinate dehydratase usually form functional proteins that form an enzymatic reaction, which is known to speed up processes.  The shikimate pathway is an old eukaryotic trait (Henriquez, 2015, 9). The enzymes found in the shikimate pathway have particular molecular organizations in various groups of species. All the proteins in the shikimate pathway are encoded differently in the polypeptides. The enzymes found in the shikimate pathway have specific molecular organizations in various groups of species. The shikimate pathway contains enzymes that are encoded on different polypeptides in bacteria.  The reason why glyphosate is effective on plants is that plants have discrete polypeptides each of them with enzyme activity.

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The shikimate pathway creates room for the production of many secondary metabolites, and its regulation is designed to respond to the creation of acidic components. Through the shikimate pathway, glyphosate can affect a variety of biochemical processes. Some of the biochemical processes affected by glyphosate are protein synthesis, photosynthesis, nucleic acid synthesis and respiration in plants (Mobin, 2015, 2).  When all these operations are affected by glyphosate, the relevance of the chemical is created because it assumes its role of getting rid of unwanted plant cover. Moreover, this process allows the inhibition of the activity of 5-enolpyruvyl-shikimate-3-phosphate synthesis and treatment by glyphosate depresses the elicitor stimulated the production of shikimate pathway derived phytoalexins in Cassia obtusifolia. The supplementation of glyphosate and amino acids and its combination influences the total content of phenols and flavonoids. Another benefit of the shikimate pathway is the production of amino acids, which may be useful to the growth, and maturity of plants such as the tomatoes. The reason why the shikimate pathway is a useful process for inhibition is that glyphosate as a herbicide is found effective through the use of this process. If the shikimate process does not occur after the application of glyphosate on weeds, then the herbicide would be rendered useless. The shikimate pathway is also responsible for the production of enzymes, which catalyze the reactions by the herbicide.

Glyphosate as a herbicide has been found satisfactory in the eradication of unwanted pant cover and weeds. However, there has been an international survey that was done, and some weed species were found to be resistant to glyphosate. Glyphosate-resistant plants are found in many countries, and they are a number of species. In farming, weed control is essential, and one of the significant issues that farmers face is battling herbicide-resistant weeds (Heap, 2014). The rise of genetically modified food crops that were planted and glyphosate used for weed control created the emergence of weeds that were resistant to the herbicide and therefore, there have been efforts to find another solution for the control of these weeds. Another reason why the plants could be generating resistance is that of the widespread and constant use of glyphosate for weed control (Han, 2016, 5). Glyphosate controls the weeds, but it also has some adverse effects on the food crops. The reduction of the plant height is one of the disadvantages of using glyphosate (Green, 2016, 4). The dry weight of the plant is also reduced even when the food crops are glyphosate resistant. There is also a twenty-five percent reduction in the overall yield of the plants, which is typical because the height of the plant and the dry weight of the plant are often affected by the chemical compound. However, the yield reduction is not a standard trait in all the food crops where glyphosate is used for weed control. Some of the plants that have been genetically modified do not experience the overall reduction of the harvests. There is a disadvantage of using the herbicide because of its presence in water bodies, which destroys the natural state of the water bodies due to the presence of toxins. The presence of any herbicide in a water body shows that the water body has been contaminated. The efficiency of glyphosate is also determined by the temperature of the environment. This is a disadvantage because it is not possible for a farmer to control the temperature, especially in an open farm. Various studies have been done, and glyphosate was found to be most effective in warm environments (Han, 2016, 6).

In conclusion, glyphosate is the most widely used chemical compound for the comprehensive control of weeds. Glyphosate is not only used for the control of weeds but has also been used for domestic purposes for the eradication of plant cover. For example, when there is unwanted plant covering pathways the chemical compound may be used for elimination of these specific plant cover. Glyphosate stops the nuclear-encoded enzyme 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase that catalyzes the reaction of shikimate-3-phosphate and phosphoenolpyruvate and therefore the formation of 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate, in the biosynthesis of aromatic amino acids in plants (Han, 2016, 1). Despite the growing number of weeds that are resistant to glyphosate there is still a good number of weeds that are eradicated by the chemical compound. This, therefore, earns glyphosate the term efficient in weed and unwanted plant cover control.

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  1. Green, JM, 2016, The rise and future of glyphosate and glyphosate‐resistant crops, Pest management science.
  2. Han, H, Yu, Q, Widderick, MJ and Powles, SB, 2016 Target‐site EPSPS Pro‐106 mutations: sufficient to endow glyphosate resistance in polyploid Echinochloa colona?, Pest management science, 72(2), pp.264-271.
  3. Heap, I, 2014 Herbicide resistant weeds In Integrated pest management (pp. 281-301), Springer Netherlands.
  4. Henriquez, FL, Campbell, SJ, Sundararaj, BK, Cano, A, Muench, SP and Roberts, C W , 2015, The Acanthamoeba shikimate pathway has a unique molecular arrangement and is essential for aromatic amino acid biosynthesis, Protist, 166(1), pp 93-105.
  5. Mobin, M., Wu, C H , Tewari, R K  and Paek, K Y , 2015, Studies on the glyphosate-induced amino acid starvation and addition of precursors on caffeic acid accumulation and profiles in adventitious roots of Echinacea purpurea (L) Moench, Plant   Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture (PCTOC), 120(1), pp 291-301.
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