Under natural conditions, the plants are, usually, surrounded by a series of potential enemies. They had created strategies of defense against pathogens and herbivores' attacks, allowing its perpetuation throughout evolution. These defense mechanisms are closely associated with the synthesis of secondary metabolites, which are also worldwide used in several areas of industry. This bibliographic review was conducted aiming to better understand how plants synthesize these substances in response to biotic or abiotic stimuli. The results discussed here revealed that synthesis of plant secondary metabolites is dependent on changes in several metabolic pathways, being often directly associated with the primary metabolism. Injury by herbivores or pathogens, temperature, CO2 levels, solar radiation and drought, are the factors related to the environment that express the most significant signs of inhibition or synthesis of plant secondary metabolites. Global climatic changes recently observed can affect the metabolic pathways network and, consequently, secondary metabolites synthesis. Nowadays, genomic tools have been useful alternatives that are leading to a new revolution of plant breeding, allowing the overexpression or inhibition of these substances. Some limitations and challenges to be achieved upon the dynamics of secondary metabolite synthesis in plants are presented.
Key words: Jasmonic acid, transcription factors, inhibition, synthesis.
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