Biosynthesis and molecular actions of specialized 1,4-naphthoquinone natural products produced by horticultural plants

The 1,4-naphthoquinones (1,4-NQs) are a diverse group of natural products found in every kingdom of life. Plants, including many horticultural species, collectively synthesize hundreds of specialized 1,4-NQs with ecological roles in plant–plant (allelopathy), plant–insect and plant–microbe interactions. Numerous horticultural plants producing 1,4-NQs have also served as sources of traditional medicines for hundreds of years. As a result, horticultural species have been at the forefront of many basic studies conducted to understand the metabolism and function of specialized plant 1,4-NQs. Several 1,4-NQ natural products derived from horticultural plants have also emerged as promising scaffolds for developing new drugs.