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noun, plural: octopines

A compound originating from arginine and alanine, with a molecular structure closely similar to lactic acid, and first isolated from the muscle tissue of octopus, and later found in other invertebrates and in plant crown gall tumors


The octopine belongs to the group of chemical compound, opines. Opines are chemical compounds characterized by having a low molecular weight and present in plant tumors caused by crown gall-causing bacteria, Agrobacterium sp. The bacteria insert a tumour-inducing plasmid into the genome of the plant host. The plasmid includes a segment of DNA that encodes for enzymes crucial to the biosynthesis of opines. Opines are an important nitrogen-source of these bacteria. Most opines are secondary amine derivatives formed through the condensation of an amino acid. The octapines, together with the octopinic acid, lysopine, and histopine, are formed when pyruvate is involved in the condensation reaction.

The octopine is the first opine to be isolated. Its name is derived from the octopus species, Octopus octopodia, from where it was first isolated in 1927.1 Later, it was also found in plant crown gall tumors.

The octopine is a chemical compound derived from the arginine and the alanine. In invertebrates (e.g. octopus, peanut worm, great scallop) where it was found, the octopine functions as an analog of lactic acid.2

Chemical formula:

  • C9H18N4O4

1 Morizawa, K. (1927). "The extractive substances in Octopus octopodia". Acta Scholae Medicinalis Universitatis Imperialis in Kioto. 9: 285–298.
2 Hockachka, P., Hartline, P., & Fields, J. (1977). "Octopine as an end product of anaerobic glycolysis in the chambered nautilus". Science. 195(4273): 72–4.