Artemisinin (Qinghaosu) Production in Artemisia annua

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  • 1 Dept. of Horticulture, Purdue Univ., West Lafayette, IN 47907-1165

Artemisinin (qinghaosu), an endoperoxide sesquiterpene lactone with antimalarial activity and little human toxicity, is produced in A. annua L., a short-day plant with the critical photoperiod of 13.5 h. Artemisinin peaks at full flowering when it is 11 times higher in inflorescences than in leaves. Supplementation of MS medium with BA, kinetin, CCC, or daminozide decreased content in shoot cultures as compared to the control, with the exception of CCC at 6.3 μM. Artemisinin content (percent dry weight) in this experiment did not correlate with shoot number (r = –0.198) but was highly correlated (r = 0.775**) with root number, indicating that although roots do not produce artemisinin, they may be involved in its synthesis. Maximum artemisinin was produced in hormone-free medium. Friable calli were obtained with a combination of BA (4.4 μM) and 2,4-D (4.5 μM), but artemisinin was absent from calli, cells, and cell culture media. Biseriate glandular trichomes are present in leaves and flowers from the earliest developmental stages. Artemisinin was extracted by a 1-min dip in organic solvents from flowers and leaves, indicating that the biseriate glandular trichomes of A. annua are the probable site of accumulation or sequestration of artemisinin.

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