The distribution of flavonoids, isoflavonoids, and their conjugates in developing soybean (Glycine max L.) seedling organs and in root and seed exudates has been examined. Conjugates of the isoflavones daidzein and genistein are major metabolites in all embryonic organs within the dry seed and in seedling roots, hypocotyl, and cotyledon tissues at all times after germination. Primary leaf tissues undergo a programmed shift from isoflavonoid to flavonoid metabolism 3 days after germination and become largely predominated by glycosides of the flavonols kampferol, quercetin, and isorhamnetin by 5 days. Cotyledons contain relatively constant and very high levels of conjugates of both daidzein and genistein. Hypocotyl tissues contain a third unidentified compound, P19.3, also present in multiple conjugated forms. Conjugates of daidzein, genistein, and P19.3 are at their highest levels in the hypocotyl hook and fall off progressively down the hypocotyl. These isoflavones also undergo a programmed and dramatic decrease between 2 and 4 days in the hypocotyl hook. All root sections are predominated by daidzein and its conjugates, particularly in the root tip, where they reach the highest levels in the seedling. Light has a pronounced effect on the distribution of the isoflavones; in the dark, isoflavone levels in the root tips are greatly reduced, while those in the cotyledons are higher. Finally, the conjugates of daidzein and genistein and several unidentified aromatic metabolites are selectively excreted into root and seed exudates. Analysis of seed exudates suggests that this is a continuous, but saturable event.
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