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Metabolomics analysis reveals both plant variety and choice of hormone treatment modulate vinca alkaloid production in Catharanthus roseus

Valerie N. Fraser; Benjamin Philmus; Molly Megraw

Plant Direct: Vol 4, No 9

The medicinal plant Catharanthus roseus produces numerous secondary metabolites of interest for the treatment of many diseases – most notably for the terpene indole alkaloid (TIA) vinblastine, which is used in the treatment of leukemia and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Historically, methyl jasmonate (MeJA) has been used to induce TIA production, but in the past, this has only been investigated in whole seedlings, cell culture, or hairy root culture. This study examines the effects of the phytohormones MeJA and ethylene on the induction of TIA biosynthesis and accumulation in the shoots and roots of 8‐day‐old seedlings of two varieties of C. roseus. Using LCMS and RT‐qPCR, we demonstrate the importance of variety selection, as we observe markedly different induction patterns of important TIA precursor compounds. Additionally, both phytohormone choice and concentration have significant effects on TIA biosynthesis. Finally, our study suggests that several early‐induction pathway steps as well as pathway‐specific genes are likely to be transcriptionally regulated. Our findings highlight the need for a complete set of’omics resources in commonly used C. roseus varieties and the need for caution when extrapolating results from one cultivar to another.

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