Patterns of Variation in Alkamides and Cichoric Acid in Roots and Aboveground Parts of Echinacea purpurea (L.) Moench

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  • 1 Gaia Herbs, Inc., 108 Island Ford Road, Brevard, NC 28712
  • 2 Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center, North Carolina State University, 455 Research Drive, Fletcher, NC 28732

We investigated patterns of variation in alkamides and cichoric acid accumulation in the roots and aboveground parts of Echinacea purpurea (L.) Moench. These phytochemicals were extracted from fresh plant parts with 60% ethanol and quantified by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) analysis. Concentrations of alkamides and cichoric acid were measured on a dry-weight basis (mg·g–1). For total alkamides, concentrations among individual plants varied from 5.02 to 27.67 (mean = 14.4%) in roots, from 0.62 to 3.42 (mean = 1.54) in nearly matured seed heads (NMSH), and 0.22 to 5.25 (mean = 0.77) in young tops (about ½ flower heads, ¼ leaves, and ¼ stems). For cichoric acid, concentrations among individual plants varied from 2.65 to 37.52 (mean = 8.95), from 2.03 to 31.58 (mean = 10.9), and from 4.79 to 38.55 (mean = 18.88) in the roots, the NMSH, and the tops, respectively. Dodeca-2E, 4E, 8Z, 10E-tetraenoic acid isobutylamide and dodeca-2E, 4E, 8Z, 10Z-tetraenoic acid isobutylamide (alkamides 8/9) accounted for only 9.5% of the total alkamides in roots, but comprised 87.9% in the NMSH, and 76.6% in the young tops. Correlations of concentrations of alkamides or cichoric acid between those of roots and those of the NMSH were not statistically significant, and either within the roots, the NMSH, and the young tops. However, a significant negative correlation was observed between the concentration of cichoric acid in the roots and in young tops, and a significant positive correlation was observed between total alkamide concentration in the roots and cichoric acid concentration in the young tops. These results may be useful in the genetic improvement of E. purpurea for medicinal use.

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