2,4-Di-tert-butylphenol or 2,4-bis(1,1-dimethylethyl)-phenol (2,4-DTBP) is a common toxic secondary metabolite produced by various groups of organisms. The biosources and bioactivities of 2,4-DTBP have been well investigated, but the phenol has not been systematically reviewed. This article provides a comprehensive review of 2,4-DTBP and its analogs with emphasis on natural sources and bioactivities. 2,4-DTBP has been found in at least 169 species of bacteria (16 species, 10 families), fungi (11 species, eight families), diatom (one species, one family), liverwort (one species, one family), pteridiphyta (two species, two families), gymnosperms (four species, one family), dicots (107 species, 58 families), monocots (22 species, eight families), and animals (five species, five families). 2,4-DTBP is often a major component of violate or essential oils and it exhibits potent toxicity against almost all testing organisms, including the producers; however, it is not clear why organisms produce autotoxic 2,4-DTBP and its analogs. The accumulating evidence indicates that the endocidal regulation seems to be the primary function of the phenols in the producing organisms.
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