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1.  The effect of roots and media constituents on trichomes and artemisinin production in Artemisia annua L 
Plant cell reports  2012;32(2):207-218.
Artemisia annua produces the antimalarial drug, artemisinin (AN), which is synthesized and stored in glandular trichomes (GLTs). In vitro-grown A. annua shoots produce more AN when they form roots. This may be a function not of the roots, but rather media components such as the phytohormones, α-naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA) and 6-benzylaminopurine (BAP), or salts and sucrose used to maintain either rooted or unrooted shoot cultures. We investigated how three main media components altered artemisinic metabolite production, pathway gene transcripts, and GLT formation in both mature and developing leaves in rooted and unrooted cultures. Although transcript levels of AN biosynthetic genes were not altered, AN levels were significantly different, and there were major differences in both artemisinic metabolite levels and trichomes in mature versus developing leaves. For example, NAA induced higher AN production in rooted shoots, but only in mature leaves. In developing leaves, BAP increased GLT density on the leaf surface. When both phytohormones were present, GLTs were larger on young developing leaves, but smaller on mature leaves. Furthermore, although other media components increased GLT density, their size decreased on young leaves, but there was no effect on mature leaves. Roots also appeared to drive conversion of artemisinic precursors towards end products. These results suggest that, while the presence of roots affects AN and trichome production, phytohormones and other media constituents used for in vitro culture of A. annua also exert an influence.
PMCID: PMC3551342  PMID: 23085820
Auxin; Cytokinin; Trichomes; Artemisinin; Terpene; Roots
2.  Global characterization of Artemisia annua glandular trichome transcriptome using 454 pyrosequencing 
BMC Genomics  2009;10:465.
Glandular trichomes produce a wide variety of commercially important secondary metabolites in many plant species. The most prominent anti-malarial drug artemisinin, a sesquiterpene lactone, is produced in glandular trichomes of Artemisia annua. However, only limited genomic information is currently available in this non-model plant species.
We present a global characterization of A. annua glandular trichome transcriptome using 454 pyrosequencing. Sequencing runs using two normalized cDNA collections from glandular trichomes yielded 406,044 expressed sequence tags (average length = 210 nucleotides), which assembled into 42,678 contigs and 147,699 singletons. Performing a second sequencing run only increased the number of genes identified by ~30%, indicating that massively parallel pyrosequencing provides deep coverage of the A. annua trichome transcriptome. By BLAST search against the NCBI non-redundant protein database, putative functions were assigned to over 28,573 unigenes, including previously undescribed enzymes likely involved in sesquiterpene biosynthesis. Comparison with ESTs derived from trichome collections of other plant species revealed expressed genes in common functional categories across different plant species. RT-PCR analysis confirmed the expression of selected unigenes and novel transcripts in A. annua glandular trichomes.
The presence of contigs corresponding to enzymes for terpenoids and flavonoids biosynthesis suggests important metabolic activity in A. annua glandular trichomes. Our comprehensive survey of genes expressed in glandular trichome will facilitate new gene discovery and shed light on the regulatory mechanism of artemisinin metabolism and trichome function in A. annua.
PMCID: PMC2763888  PMID: 19818120
3.  Relative expression of genes of terpene metabolism in different tissues of Artemisia annua L 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:45.
Recently, Artemisia annua L. (annual or sweet wormwood) has received increasing attention due to the fact that the plant produces the sesquiterpenoid endoperoxide artemisinin, which today is widely used for treatment of malaria. The plant produces relatively small amounts of artemisinin and a worldwide shortage of the drug has led to intense research in order to increase the yield of artemisinin. In order to improve our understanding of terpene metabolism in the plant and to evaluate the competition for precursors, which may influence the yield of artemisinin, we have used qPCR to estimate the expression of 14 genes of terpene metabolism in different tissues.
The four genes of the artemisinin biosynthetic pathway (amorpha-4,11-diene synthase, amorphadiene-12-hydroxylase, artemisinic aldehyde ∆11(13) reductase and aldehyde dehydrogenase 1) showed remarkably higher expression (between ~40- to ~500-fold) in flower buds and young leaves compared to other tissues (old leaves, stems, roots, hairy root cultures). Further, dihydroartemisinic aldehyde reductase showed a very high expression only in hairy root cultures. Germacrene A and caryophyllene synthase were mostly expressed in young leaves and flower buds while epi-cedrol synthase was highly expressed in old leaves. 3-Hydroxy-3-methyl-glutaryl coenzyme A reductase exhibited lower expression in old leaves compared to other tissues. Farnesyldiphosphate synthase, squalene synthase, and 1-deoxy-D-xylulose-5-phosphate reductoisomerase showed only modest variation in expression in the different tissues, while expression of 1-deoxy-D-xylulose-5-phosphate synthase was 7-8-fold higher in flower buds and young leaves compared to old leaves.
Four genes of artemisinin biosynthesis were highly expressed in flower buds and young leaves (tissues showing a high density of glandular trichomes). The expression of dihydroartemisinic aldehyde reductase has been suggested to have a negative effect on artemisinin production through reduction of dihydroartemisinic aldehyde to dihydroartemisinic alcohol. However, our results show that this enzyme is expressed only at low levels in tissues producing artemisinin and consequently its effect on artemisinin production may be limited. Finally, squalene synthase but not other sesquiterpene synthases appears to be a significant competitor for farnesyl diphosphate in artemisinin-producing tissues.
PMCID: PMC3063820  PMID: 21388533
4.  Studies on the Expression of Sesquiterpene Synthases Using Promoter-β-Glucuronidase Fusions in Transgenic Artemisia annua L 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e80643.
In order to better understand the influence of sesquiterpene synthases on artemisinin yield in Artemisia annua, the expression of some sesquiterpene synthases has been studied using transgenic plants expressing promoter-GUS fusions. The cloned promoter sequences were 923, 1182 and 1510 bp for β-caryophyllene (CPS), epi-cedrol (ECS) and β-farnesene (FS) synthase, respectively. Prediction of cis-acting regulatory elements showed that the promoters are involved in complex regulation of expression. Transgenic A. annua plants carrying promoter-GUS fusions were studied to elucidate the expression pattern of the three sesquiterpene synthases and compared to the previously studied promoter of amorpha-4,11-diene synthase (ADS), a key enzyme of artemisinin biosynthesis. The CPS and ECS promoters were active in T-shaped trichomes of leaves and stems, basal bracts of flower buds and also in some florets cells but not in glandular secretory trichome while FS promoter activity was only observed in leaf cells and trichomes of transgenic shoots. ADS, CPS, ECS and FS transcripts were induced by wounding in a time depended manner. The four sesquiterpene synthases may be involved in responsiveness of A. annua to herbivory. Methyl jasmonate treatment triggered activation of the promoters of all four sesquiterpene synthases in a time depended manner. Southern blot result showed that the GUS gene was inserted into genomic DNA of transgenic lines as a single copy or two copies. The relative amounts of CPS and ECS as well as germacrene A synthase (GAS) transcripts are much lower than that of ADS transcript. Consequently, down-regulation of the expression of the CPS, ECS or GAS gene may not improve artemsinin yield. However, blocking the expression of FS may have effects on artemisinin production.
PMCID: PMC3838408  PMID: 24278301
5.  Differentially Expressed Genes during Contrasting Growth Stages of Artemisia annua for Artemisinin Content 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60375.
Artemisia annua is the source of antimalarial phytomolecule, artemisinin. It is mainly produced and stored in the glandular secretory trichomes present in the leaves of the plant. Since, the artemisinin biosynthesis steps are yet to be worked out, in this investigation a microarray chip was strategized for the first time to shortlist the differentially expressing genes at a stage of plant producing highest artemisinin compared to the stage with no artemisinin. As the target of this study was to analyze differential gene expression associated with contrasting artemisinin content in planta and a genotype having zero/negligible artemisinin content was unavailable, it was decided to compare different stages of the same genotype with contrasting artemisinin content (seedling - negligible artemisinin, mature leaf - high artemisinin). The SCAR-marked artemisinin-rich (∼1.2%) Indian variety ‘CIM-Arogya’ was used in the present study to determine optimal plant stage and leaf ontogenic level for artemisinin content. A representative EST dataset from leaf trichome at the stage of maximal artemisinin biosynthesis was established. The high utility small scale custom microarray chip of A. annua containing all the significant artemisinin biosynthesis-related genes, the established EST dataset, gene sequences isolated in-house and strategically selected candidates from the A. annua Unigene database (NCBI) was employed to compare the gene expression profiles of two stages. The expression data was validated through semiquantitative and quantitative RT-PCR followed by putative annotations through bioinformatics-based approaches. Many candidates having probable role in artemisinin metabolism were identified and described with scope for further functional characterization.
PMCID: PMC3616052  PMID: 23573249
6.  Differential transcriptome analysis of glandular and filamentous trichomes in Artemisia annua 
BMC Plant Biology  2013;13:220.
The medicinal plant Artemisia annua is covered with filamentous trichomes and glandular, artemisinin producing trichomes. A high artemisinin supply is needed at a reduced cost for treating malaria. Artemisinin production in bioreactors can be facilitated if a better insight is obtained in the biosynthesis of artemisinin and other metabolites. Therefore, metabolic activities of glandular and filamentous trichomes were investigated at the transcriptome level.
By laser pressure catapulting, glandular and filamentous trichomes as well as apical and sub-apical cells from glandular trichomes were collected and their transcriptome was sequenced using Illumina RNA-Seq. A de novo transcriptome was assembled (Trinity) and studied with a differential expression analysis (edgeR).
A comparison of the transcriptome from glandular and filamentous trichomes shows that MEP, MVA, most terpene and lipid biosynthesis pathways are significantly upregulated in glandular trichomes. Conversely, some transcripts coding for specific sesquiterpenoid and triterpenoid enzymes such as 8-epi-cedrol synthase and an uncharacterized oxidosqualene cyclase were significantly upregulated in filamentous trichomes. All known artemisinin biosynthesis genes are upregulated in glandular trichomes and were detected in both the apical and sub-apical cells of the glandular trichomes. No significant differential expression could be observed between the apical and sub-apical cells.
Our results underscore the vast metabolic capacities of A. annua glandular trichomes but nonetheless point to the existence of specific terpene metabolic pathways in the filamentous trichomes. Candidate genes that might be involved in artemisinin biosynthesis are proposed based on their putative function and their differential expression level.
PMCID: PMC3878173  PMID: 24359620
Artemisia annua; Artemisinin; RNASeq; Glandular trichomes; Filamentous trichomes; Laser microdissection pressure catapulting; MEP pathway; Mevalonate pathway; Lipid biosynthesis; Terpene biosynthesis
7.  Investigation of Glandular Trichome Proteins in Artemisia annua L. Using Comparative Proteomics 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e41822.
Glandular secreting trichomes (GSTs) are called biofactories because they are active in synthesizing, storing and secreting various types of plant secondary metabolites. As the most effective drug against malaria, artemisinin, a sesquiterpene lactone is derived from GSTs of Artemisia annua. However, low artemisinin content (0.001%∼1.54% of dry weight) has hindered its wide application. We investigate the GST-expressed proteins in Artemisia annua using a comparative proteomics approach, aiming for a better understanding of the trichome proteome and arteminisin metabolism. 2D-electrophoresis was employed to compare the protein profiles of GSTs and leaves. More than 700 spots were resolved for GSTs, of which ∼93 non-redundant proteins were confidently identified by searching NCBI and Artemisia EST databases. Over 70% of these proteins were highly expressed in GTSs. Functional classification of these GSTs enriched proteins revealed that many of them participate in major plant metabolic processes such as electron transport, transcription and translation.
PMCID: PMC3414485  PMID: 22905110
8.  Response of Sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) Leaf Surface Defenses to Exogenous Methyl Jasmonate 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e37191.
Helianthus annuus, the common sunflower, produces a complex array of secondary compounds that are secreted into glandular trichomes, specialized structures found on leaf surfaces and anther appendages of flowers. The primary components of these trichome secretions are sesquiterpene lactones (STL), a diverse class of compounds produced abundantly by the plant family Compositae and believed to contribute to plant defense against herbivory. We treated wild and cultivated H. annuus accessions with exogenous methyl jasmonate, a plant hormone that mediates plant defense against insect herbivores and certain classes of fungal pathogens. The wild sunflower produced a higher density of glandular trichomes on its leaves than the cultivar. Comparison of the profiles of glandular trichome extracts obtained by liquid chromatography–mass spectroscopy (LC-MS) showed that wild and cultivated H. annuus were qualitatively similar in surface chemistry, although differing in the relative size and proportion of various compounds detected. Despite observing consistent transcriptional responses to methyl jasmonate treatment, we detected no significant effect on glandular trichome density or LC-MS profile in cultivated or wild sunflower, with wild sunflower exhibiting a declining trend in overall STL production and foliar glandular trichome density of jasmonate-treated plants. These results suggest that glandular trichomes and associated compounds may act as constitutive defenses or require greater levels of stimulus for induction than the observed transcriptional responses to exogenous jasmonate. Reduced defense investment in domesticated lines is consistent with predicted tradeoffs caused by selection for increased yield; future research will focus on the development of genetic resources to explicitly test the ecological roles of glandular trichomes and associated effects on plant growth and fitness.
PMCID: PMC3356381  PMID: 22623991
9.  Anti-herbivore Structures of Paulownia tomentosa: Morphology, Distribution, Chemical Constituents and Changes During Shoot and Leaf Development 
Annals of Botany  2008;101(7):1035-1047.
Background and Aims
Recent studies have shown that small structures on plant surfaces serve ecological functions such as resistance against herbivores. The morphology, distribution, chemical composition and changes during shoot and leaf development of such small structures were examined on Paulownia tomentosa.
The morphology and distribution of the structures were studied under light microscopy, and their chemical composition was analysed using thin-layer chromatography and high-performance liquid chromatography. To further investigate the function of these structures, several simple field experiments and observations were also conducted.
Key Results
Three types of small structures on P. tomentosa were investigated: bowl-shaped organs, glandular hairs and dendritic trichomes. The bowl-shaped organs were densely aggregated on the leaves near flower buds and were determined to be extrafloral nectarines (EFNs) that secrete sugar and attract ants. Nectar production of these organs was increased by artificial damage to the leaves, suggesting an anti-herbivore function through symbiosis with ants. Glandular hairs were found on the surfaces of young and/or reproductive organs. Glandular hairs on leaves, stems and flowers secreted mucilage containing glycerides and trapped small insects. Secretions from glandular hairs on flowers and immature fruits contained flavonoids, which may provide protection against some herbivores. Yellow dendritic trichomes on the adaxial side of leaves also contained flavonoids identical to those secreted by the glandular hairs on fruits and flowers. Three special types of leaves, which differed from the standard leaves in shape, size and identity of small structures, developed near young shoot tips or young flower buds. The density of small structures on these leaf types was higher than on standard leaves, suggesting that these leaf types may be specialized to protect young leaves or reproductive organs. Changes in the small structures during leaf development suggested that leaves of P. tomentosa are primarily protected by glandular hairs and dendritic trichomes at young stages and by the EFNs at mature stages.
The results indicate that P. tomentosa protects young and/or reproductive organs from herbivores through the distribution and allocation of small structures, the nature of which depends on the developmental stage of leaves and shoots.
PMCID: PMC2710234  PMID: 18344545
Anti-herbivore defence; dendritic trichome; extrafloral nectary; flavonoids; glandular hair; glycerides; indirect defence; leaf development; morphology; optimal defence hypothesis; Paulownia tomentosa; shoot development
10.  Dried Whole Plant Artemisia annua as an Antimalarial Therapy 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e52746.
Drugs are primary weapons for reducing malaria in human populations. However emergence of resistant parasites has repeatedly curtailed the lifespan of each drug that is developed and deployed. Currently the most effective anti-malarial is artemisinin, which is extracted from the leaves of Artemisia annua. Due to poor pharmacokinetic properties and prudent efforts to curtail resistance to monotherapies, artemisinin is prescribed only in combination with other anti-malarials composing an Artemisinin Combination Therapy (ACT). Low yield in the plant, and the added cost of secondary anti-malarials in the ACT, make artemisinin costly for the developing world. As an alternative, we compared the efficacy of oral delivery of the dried leaves of whole plant (WP) A. annua to a comparable dose of pure artemisinin in a rodent malaria model (Plasmodium chabaudi). We found that a single dose of WP (containing 24 mg/kg artemisinin) reduces parasitemia more effectively than a comparable dose of purified drug. This increased efficacy may result from a documented 40-fold increase in the bioavailability of artemisinin in the blood of mice fed the whole plant, in comparison to those administered synthetic drug. Synergistic benefits may derive from the presence of other anti-malarial compounds in A. annua. If shown to be clinically efficacious, well-tolerated, and compatible with the public health imperative of forestalling evolution of drug resistance, inexpensive, locally grown and processed A. annua might prove to be an effective addition to the global effort to reduce malaria morbidity and mortality.
PMCID: PMC3527585  PMID: 23289055
11.  Optimization of genetic transformation of Artemisia annua L. Using Agrobacterium for Artemisinin production 
Pharmacognosy Magazine  2014;10(Suppl 1):S176-S180.
Artemisinin, a sesquiterpene lactone endoperoxide isolated from the medicinal plant Artemisia annua L., is a choice and effective drug for malaria treatment. Due to the low yield of artemisinin in plants, there is a need to enhance the production of artemisinin from A. annua and biotechnological technique may be one of the methods that can be used for the purpose.
To study the transformation efficiency of Agrobacterium tumefaciens in A. annua that could be applied to enhance the production of artemisinin by means of transgenic plants.
Setting and Designs:
The factors influencing Agrobacterium-mediated transformation of A. annua were explored to optimize the transformation system, which included A. tumefaciens strain and effect of organosilicone surfactants. Three strains of A. tumefaciens, that is, LBA4404, GV1301, and AGL1 harboring the binary vector pCAMBIA 1303 have been used for transformation. The evaluation was based on transient β-glucuronidase (GUS).
Materials and Methods:
Plant cell cultures were inniatiated from the seeds of A. annua using the germination Murashige and Skoog medium. A. tumefaciens harboring pCAMBIA were tranformed into the leaves of A.annua cultures from 2-week-old-seedling and 2-month-old-seedling for 15 min by vacuum infiltration. Transformation efficiency was determinated by measuring of blue area (GUS expression) on the whole leaves explant using ImageJ 1.43 software. Two organosilicon surfactants, that is, Silwet L-77 and Silwet S-408 were used to improve the transformation efficiency.
The transformation frequency with AGL1 strain was higher than GV3101 and LBA4404 which were 70.91, 49.25, and 45.45%, respectively. Effect of organosilicone surfactants, that is, Silwet L-77 and Silwet S-408 were tested on A. tumefaciens AGL1 and GV3101 for their level of transient expression, and on A. rhizogenes R1000 for its hairy root induction frequency. For AGL1, Silwet S-408 produced higher level of expression than Silwet L-77, were 2.3- and 1.3-fold, respectively. For GV3101, Silwet L-77 was still higher than Silwet S-408, were 1.5- and 1.4-fold, respectively. However, GV3101 produced higher levels of expression than AGL1. The area of GUS expression spots of AGL1, LBA4404, and GV3101 strains was 53.43%, 41.06%, and 30.51%, respectively.
A. tumefaciens AGl1 strain was the most effective to be transformed in to A. annua than GV3101 and LBA4404 strain. Surfactant Silwet S-408 produced the highest efficiency of transformation.
PMCID: PMC4047588  PMID: 24914301
Artemisinin; Artemisia annua L.; Agrobacterium transformation; malaria; pCAMBIA
12.  An Endophytic Pseudonocardia Species Induces the Production of Artemisinin in Artemisia annua 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51410.
Endophytic actinobacteria colonize internal tissues of their host plants and are considered as a rich and reliable source of diverse species and functional microorganisms. In this study, endophytic actinobacterial strain YIM 63111 was isolated from surface-sterilized tissue of the medicinal plant Artemisia annua. We identified strain YIM 63111 as a member of the genus Pseudonocardia. A. annua seedlings grown under both sterile and greenhouse conditions were inoculated with strain YIM 63111. The growth of A. annua seedlings was strongly reduced when YIM 63111 was inoculated at higher concentrations under sterile conditions. However, no growth inhibition was observed when A. annua was grown under greenhouse conditions. Using an enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) expressing YIM 63111 strain, we also observed the endophytic colonization of A. annua seedling using confocal laser-scanning microscopy. The transcription levels of the key genes involved in artemisinin biosynthesis were investigated using real time RT-PCR, revealing that cytochrome P450 monooxygenase (CYP71AV1) and cytochrome P450 oxidoreductase (CPR) expression were up-regulated in A. annua upon inoculation with strain YIM 63111 under certain conditions. The up-regulation of these genes was associated with the increased accumulation of artemisinin. These results suggest that endophytic actinobacteria effectively stimulate certain plant defense responses. Our data also demonstrate the use of Pseudonocardia sp. strain YIM 63111 as a promising means to enhance artemisinin production in plants.
PMCID: PMC3520919  PMID: 23251523
13.  Effects of Environmental Factors on Growth and Artemisinin Content of Artemisia annua L. 
Seeds of two selected clones of Artemisia annua L., TC1 and TC2, were germinated in a greenhouse. Four-week-old seedlings from both clones were grown in the Thù Đúc province of Ho Chi Minh City on 2nd January 2009 and Đà Lat on 20th January 2009. During this study period in Thù Đúc province, which is situated 4–5 m above sea level, was experiencing a tropical, dry season with temperatures ranging from 26.2°C–32.8°C. Đà Lat, situated at 1500–2000 m above sea level, was having temperate, dry season with lower temperatures, ranging from 10.5°C–18.0°C. The high temperatures and low elevation in Thù Đúc Province led to slow vegetative growth for all of the plants from the two different clones and the artemisinin contents were significantly reduced. The temperate environment of Đà Lat supported robustly growing plants, with plant heights and branch lengths 4–5 times taller and longer that those planted at Thù Đúc Province. The artemisinin contents of A. annua planted at Đà Lat were 3–4 times greater than those cultivated at Thù Đúc Province. Hence, this study indicated that the variations observed in plant growth and artemisinin contents were due to temperature effects because the two selected clones were genetically homogenous. The cold weather of Đà Lat was suitable for planting of A. annua as opposed to the tropical weather of Thù Đúc Province.
PMCID: PMC3819086  PMID: 24575216
Artemisinin; Environmental Factor; Selected Clone; Vegetative Growth
14.  Cadmium induced changes in subcellular glutathione contents within glandular trichomes of Cucurbita pepo L. 
Protoplasma  2009;243(1-4):87-94.
Plants cope with cadmium (Cd) stress by complexation with phytochelatins (Pc), metallothioneins and glutathione and sequestration within vacuoles. Especially glutathione was found to play a major role in Cd detoxification as Cd shows a high binding affinity towards thiols and as glutathione is a precursor for Pc synthesis. In the present study, we have used an immunohistochemical approach combined with computer-supported transmission electron microscopy in order to measure changes in the subcellular distribution of glutathione during Cd-stress in mesophyll cells and cells of different glandular trichomes (long and short stalked) of Cucurbita pepo L. subsp. pepo var. styriacaGreb. Even though no ultrastructural alterations were observed in leaf and glandular trichome cells after the treatment of plants with 50 µM cadmium chloride (CdCl2) for 48 h, all cells showed a large decrease in glutathione contents. The strongest decrease was found in nuclei and the cytosol (up to 76%) in glandular trichomes which are considered as a major side of Cd accumulation in leaves. The ratio of glutathione between the cytosol and nuclei and the other cell compartments was strongly decreased only in glandular trichomes (more than 50%) indicating that glutathione in these two cell compartments is especially important for the detoxification of Cd in glandular trichomes. Additionally, these data indicate that large amounts of Cd are withdrawn from nuclei during Cd exposure. The present study gives a detailed insight into the compartment-specific importance of glutathione during Cd exposure in mesophyll cells and glandular trichomes of C. pepo L. plants.
PMCID: PMC2892058  PMID: 19424775
Cadmium; Cucurbita pepo; Electron microscopy; Glutathione; Immunohistochemistry
15.  Survey of artemisinin production by diverse Artemisia species in northern Pakistan 
Malaria Journal  2010;9:310.
Artemisinin is the current drug of choice for treatment of malaria and a number of other diseases. It is obtained from the annual herb, Artemisia annua and some microbial sources by genetic engineering. There is a great concern that the artemisinin production at current rate will not meet the increasing demand by the pharmaceutical industry, so looking for additional sources is imperative.
In current study, artemisinin concentration was analysed and compared in the flowers, leaves, roots and stems of Artemisia annua and 14 other Artemisia species including two varieties each for Artemisia roxburghiana and Artemisia dracunculus using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC).
The highest artemisinin concentration was detected in the leaves (0.44 ± 0.03%) and flowers (0.42 ± 0.03%) of A. annua, followed by the flowers (0.34 ± .02%) of A. bushriences and leaves (0.27 ± 0%) of A. dracunculus var dracunculus. The average concentration of artemisinin varied in the order of flowers > leaves > stems > roots.
This study identifies twelve novel plant sources of artemisinin, which may be helpful for pharmaceutical production of artemisinin. This is the first report of quantitative comparison of artemisinin among a large number of Artemisia species.
PMCID: PMC2989329  PMID: 21047440
16.  Whole plant extracts versus single compounds for the treatment of malaria: synergy and positive interactions 
Malaria Journal  2011;10(Suppl 1):S4.
In traditional medicine whole plants or mixtures of plants are used rather than isolated compounds. There is evidence that crude plant extracts often have greater in vitro or/and in vivo antiplasmodial activity than isolated constituents at an equivalent dose. The aim of this paper is to review positive interactions between components of whole plant extracts, which may explain this.
Narrative review.
There is evidence for several different types of positive interactions between different components of medicinal plants used in the treatment of malaria. Pharmacodynamic synergy has been demonstrated between the Cinchona alkaloids and between various plant extracts traditionally combined. Pharmacokinetic interactions occur, for example between constituents of Artemisia annua tea so that its artemisinin is more rapidly absorbed than the pure drug. Some plant extracts may have an immunomodulatory effect as well as a direct antiplasmodial effect. Several extracts contain multidrug resistance inhibitors, although none of these has been tested clinically in malaria. Some plant constituents are added mainly to attenuate the side-effects of others, for example ginger to prevent nausea.
More clinical research is needed on all types of interaction between plant constituents. This could include clinical trials of combinations of pure compounds (such as artemisinin + curcumin + piperine) and of combinations of herbal remedies (such as Artemisia annua leaves + Curcuma longa root + Piper nigum seeds). The former may enhance the activity of existing pharmaceutical preparations, and the latter may improve the effectiveness of existing herbal remedies for use in remote areas where modern drugs are unavailable.
PMCID: PMC3059462  PMID: 21411015
17.  Identification, functional characterization and developmental regulation of sesquiterpene synthases from sunflower capitate glandular trichomes 
BMC Plant Biology  2009;9:86.
Sesquiterpene lactones are characteristic metabolites of Asteraceae (or Compositae) which often display potent bioactivities and are sequestered in specialized organs such as laticifers, resin ducts, and trichomes. For characterization of sunflower sesquiterpene synthases we employed a simple method to isolate pure trichomes from anther appendages which facilitated the identification of these genes and investigation of their enzymatic functions and expression patterns during trichome development.
Glandular trichomes of sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) were isolated, and their RNA was extracted to investigate the initial steps of sesquiterpene lactone biosynthesis. Reverse transcription-PCR experiments led to the identification of three sesquiterpene synthases. By combination of in vitro and in vivo characterization of sesquiterpene synthase gene products in Escherichia coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae, respectively, two enzymes were identified as germacrene A synthases, the key enzymes of sesquiterpene lactone biosynthesis. Due to the very low in vitro activity, the third enzyme was expressed in vivo in yeast as a thioredoxin-fusion protein for functional characterization. In in vivo assays, it was identified as a multiproduct enzyme with the volatile sesquiterpene hydrocarbon δ-cadinene as one of the two main products with α-muuorlene, β-caryophyllene, α-humulene and α-copaene as minor products. The second main compound remained unidentified. For expression studies, glandular trichomes from the anther appendages of sunflower florets were isolated in particular developmental stages from the pre- to the post-secretory phase. All three sesquiterpene synthases were solely upregulated during the biosynthetically active stages of the trichomes. Expression in different aerial plant parts coincided with occurrence and maturity of trichomes. Young roots with root hairs showed expression of the sesquiterpene synthase genes as well.
This study functionally identified sesquiterpene synthase genes predominantly expressed in sunflower trichomes. Evidence for the transcriptional regulation of sesquiterpene synthase genes in trichome cells suggest a potential use for these specialized cells for the identification of further genes involved in the biosynthesis, transport, and regulation of sesquiterpene lactones.
PMCID: PMC2715020  PMID: 19580670
18.  Identification and characterization of plasma membrane aquaporins isolated from fiber cells of Calotropis procera  
Calotropis procera, commonly known as “milkweed”, possesses long seed trichomes for seed dispersal and has the ability to survive under harsh conditions such as drought and salinity. Aquaporins are water channel proteins expressed in all land plants, divided into five subfamilies plasma membrane intrinsic proteins (PIPs), tonoplast intrinsic proteins (TIPs), NOD26-like proteins (NIPs), small basic intrinsic proteins (SIPs), and the unfamiliar X intrinsic proteins (XIPs). PIPs constitute the largest group of water channel proteins that are involved in different developmental and regulatory mechanisms including water permeability, cell elongation, and stomata opening. Aquaporins are also involved in abiotic stress tolerance and cell expansion mechanisms, but their role in seed trichomes (fiber cells) has never been investigated. A large number of clones isolated from C. procera fiber cDNA library showed sequence homology to PIPs. Both expressed sequence tags (ESTs) and real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) studies revealed that the transcript abundance of this gene family in fiber cells of C. procera is greater than that of cotton. Full-length cDNAs of CpPIP1 and CpPIP2 were isolated from C. procera fiber cDNA library and used for constructing plant expression vectors under constitutive (2×35S) and trichome-specific (GhLTP3) promoters. Transgenic tobacco plants were developed via Agrobacterium-mediated transformation. The phenotypic characteristics of the plants were observed after confirming the integration of transgene in plants. It was observed that CpPIP2 expression cassette under 2×35S and GhLTP3 promoter enhanced the numbers of stem and leave trichomes. However, 2×35S::CpPIP2 has a more amplified effect on trichome density and length than GhLTP3::CpPIP2 and other PIP constructs. These findings imply the role of C. procera PIP aquaporins in fiber cell elongation. The PIPs-derived cell expansion mechanism may be exploited through transgenic approaches for improvement of fiber staple length in cotton and boosting of defense against sucking insects by enhancing plant pubescence.
PMCID: PMC3709063  PMID: 23825144
Seed trichome; Plasma membrane intrinsic protein (PIP); Fiber quality; Cell elongation; Tobacco; Agrobacterium
19.  Induction of multiple pleiotropic drug resistance genes in yeast engineered to produce an increased level of anti-malarial drug precursor, artemisinic acid 
BMC Biotechnology  2008;8:83.
Due to the global occurrence of multi-drug-resistant malarial parasites (Plasmodium falciparum), the anti-malarial drug most effective against malaria is artemisinin, a natural product (sesquiterpene lactone endoperoxide) extracted from sweet wormwood (Artemisia annua). However, artemisinin is in short supply and unaffordable to most malaria patients. Artemisinin can be semi-synthesized from its precursor artemisinic acid, which can be synthesized from simple sugars using microorganisms genetically engineered with genes from A. annua. In order to develop an industrially competent yeast strain, detailed analyses of microbial physiology and development of gene expression strategies are required.
Three plant genes coding for amorphadiene synthase, amorphadiene oxidase (AMO or CYP71AV1), and cytochrome P450 reductase, which in concert divert carbon flux from farnesyl diphosphate to artemisinic acid, were expressed from a single plasmid. The artemisinic acid production in the engineered yeast reached 250 μg mL-1 in shake-flask cultures and 1 g L-1 in bio-reactors with the use of Leu2d selection marker and appropriate medium formulation. When plasmid stability was measured, the yeast strain synthesizing amorphadiene alone maintained the plasmid in 84% of the cells, whereas the yeast strain synthesizing artemisinic acid showed poor plasmid stability. Inactivation of AMO by a point-mutation restored the high plasmid stability, indicating that the low plasmid stability is not caused by production of the AMO protein but by artemisinic acid synthesis or accumulation. Semi-quantitative reverse-transcriptase (RT)-PCR and quantitative real time-PCR consistently showed that pleiotropic drug resistance (PDR) genes, belonging to the family of ATP-Binding Cassette (ABC) transporter, were massively induced in the yeast strain producing artemisinic acid, relative to the yeast strain producing the hydrocarbon amorphadiene alone. Global transcriptional analysis by yeast microarray further demonstrated that the induction of drug-resistant genes such as ABC transporters and major facilitator superfamily (MSF) genes is the primary cellular stress-response; in addition, oxidative and osmotic stress responses were observed in the engineered yeast.
The data presented here suggest that the engineered yeast producing artemisinic acid suffers oxidative and drug-associated stresses. The use of plant-derived transporters and optimizing AMO activity may improve the yield of artemisinic acid production in the engineered yeast.
PMCID: PMC2588579  PMID: 18983675
20.  Artemisinin production in Artemisia annua: studies in planta and results of a novel delivery method for treating malaria and other neglected diseases 
Artemisia annua L. produces the sesquiterpene lactone, artemisinin, a potent antimalarial drug that is also effective in treating other parasitic diseases, some viral infections and various neoplasms. Artemisinin is also an allelopathic herbicide that can inhibit the growth of other plants. Unfortunately, the compound is in short supply and thus, studies on its production in the plant are of interest as are low cost methods for drug delivery. Here we review our recent studies on artemisinin production in A. annua during development of the plant as it moves from the vegetative to reproductive stage (flower budding and full flower formation), in response to sugars, and in concert with the production of the ROS, hydrogen peroxide. We also provide new data from animal experiments that measured the potential of using the dried plant directly as a therapeutic. Together these results provide a synopsis of a more global view of regulation of artemisinin biosynthesis in A. annua than previously available. We further suggest an alternative low cost method of drug delivery to treat malaria and other neglected tropical diseases.
PMCID: PMC3106422  PMID: 21643453
Artemisinin pharmacokinetics; ROS; DMSO; Artemisia annua development; Trichomes
21.  Recent Advances in Artemisinin Production Through Heterologous Expression 
Current medicinal chemistry  2008;15(27):2886.
Artemisinin the sesquiterpene endoperoxide lactone extracted from the herb Artemisia annua, remains the basis for the current preferred treatment against the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. In addition, artemisinin and its derivatives show additional anti-parasite, anti-cancer, and anti-viral properties. Widespread use of this valuable secondary metabolite has been hampered by low production in vivo and high cost of chemical synthesis in vitro. Novel production methods are required to accommodate the ever-growing need for this important drug. Past work has focused on increasing production through traditional breeding approaches, with limited success, and on engineering cultured plants for high production in bioreactors. New research is focusing on heterologous expression systems for this unique biochemical pathway. Recently discovered genes, including a cytochrome P450 and its associated reductase, have been shown to catalyze multiple steps in the biochemical pathway leading to artemisinin. This has the potential to make a semi-synthetic approach to production both possible and cost effective. Artemisinin precursor production in engineered Saccharomyces cerevisiae is about two orders of magnitude higher than from field-grown A. annua. Efforts to increase flux through engineered pathways are on-going in both E. coli and S. cerevisiae through combinations of engineering precursor pathways and downstream optimization of gene expression. This review will compare older approaches to overproduction of this important drug, and then focus on the results from the newer approaches using heterologous expression systems and how they might meet the demands for treating malaria and other diseases.
PMCID: PMC2821817  PMID: 18991643
Amorpha diene; CYP71 AV1; terpenoid; genetic engineering; malaria
22.  In-Vitro Assessment of the Acaricidal Properties of Artemisia annua and Zataria multiflora Essential Oils to Control Cattle Ticks 
The aim of this study was to investigate the ‘acaricidal effect’ of Zataria multiflora and Artemisia annua essential oils on Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) annulatus.
This study was carried out in 2009 in the Laboratory of Parasitology of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Shahrekord University, west central Iran. Six dilutions (5, 10, 20, 40, 60 and 80 µL/cm3) of both essential oils were used against engorged female R. (Boophilus) annulatus ticks using an in vitro immersion method. The mortality rates for each treatment were recorded 6, 15 and 24 hours post inoculation (hpi). Mortality rate was analyzed using Repeated Measures Analysis of Variance, and comparison of means was carried out using General Linear Models Procedure.
The mortality rate caused by different dilutions of Z. multiflora essential oil ranged from 26.6% (using 10 µL/cm3) to 100% (using 40 µL/cm3) and for A. annua essential oil it was 33.2 to 100% (using 20 and 80 µL/cm3, respectively) by the end of the experiment (36 hpi). No mortality was recorded for the non-treated control group or for dilutions less than 5 and 10 µL/cm3 using Zataria and Artemisia essential oils, respectively. For Z. multiflora mortality peaked at 15 hpi for all concentrations other than 20 µL/cm3 and took 24 h to achieve its maximum effect while for A. annua the two highest concentrations needed 24 hpi to reach their full effect. In addition, essential oils applied at more than 20 and 60 µL/cm3 caused 100% egg-laying failure in engorged female ticks by Zataria and Artemisia, respectively while no failure was observed for the non-treated control group. The mortality rate in both botanical acaricides was dose-dependent.
Both these medicinal plants have high potential acaricidal effects on the engorged stage of R. (Boophilus) annulatus in vitro.
PMCID: PMC3279866  PMID: 22347275
Artemisia Annua; Botanical Acaricidal Agents; Essential Oil; Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) Annulatus; Zataria Multiflora
23.  Developmental Plasticity of Glandular Trichomes into Somatic Embryogenesis in Tilia amurensis 
Annals of Botany  2007;100(2):177-183.
Background and Aims
In Tilia amurensis, two types of trichomes (hairy and glandular) develop from epidermal surfaces of cotyledons and hypocotyls of zygotic embryos soon after germination. Here, it is demonstrated that glandular trichome initials develop directly into somatic embryos when treated in vitro with 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D).
Zygotic embryos of Tilia amurensis were cultured on Murashige and Skoog medium with 3 % sucrose and various concentrations (0, 2·2, 4·4 and 8·8 µm) of 2,4-D. Morphological development of trichomes and somatic embryos was analysed by scanning electron microscope and light microscope after histological sectioning.
Key Results
In zygotic embryos cultured on medium with 4·4 µm 2,4-D, formation of hairy trichomes was completely suppressed but formation of glandular trichome initials increased. That some filamentous trichome initials developed directly into somatic embryos was confirmed by histological and scanning electron microscope observation. When explants with different stages of trichome initials (two-, four- and eight-celled filamentous and fully mature trichomes) were temporally pre-treated with 4·4 µm 2,4-D for 24 h and transferred into hormone-free medium, two-celled and four-celled filamentous trichome initials were the effective stage of trichomes for somatic embryo induction.
It is suggested that early developing filamentous trichome initials have developmental plasticity and that with 2,4-D treatment these trichome initials develop directly into somatic embryos.
PMCID: PMC2735316  PMID: 17565972
Tilia amurensis; glandular trichome; hairy trichome; somatic embryo; filamentous trichome initials; developmental plasticity
24.  Isolation, characterization and structural studies of amorpha ― 4, 11­diene synthase (ADS3963) from Artemisia annua L. 
Bioinformation  2010;4(9):421-429.
With the escalating prevalence of malaria in recent years, artemisinin demand has placed considerable stress on its production worldwide. At present, the relative low­yield of artemisinin (0.01­1.1 %) in the source plant (Artemisia annua L. plant) has imposed a serious limitation in commercializing the drug. Amorpha­4, 11­diene synthase (ADS) has been reported a key enzyme in enhancing the artemisinin level in Artemisia annua L. An understanding of the structural and functional correlations of Amorpha­4, 11­diene synthase (ADS) may therefore, help in the molecular up­regulation of the enzyme. In this context, an in silico approach was used to study the ADS3963 (3963 bp) gene cloned by us, from high artemisinin (0.7­0.9% dry wt basis) yielding strain of A. annua L. The full­length putative gene of ADS3963 was found to encode a protein consisting of 533 amino acid residues with conserved aspartate rich domain. The isoelectric point (pI) and molecular weight of the protein were 5.25 and 62.2 kDa, respectively. The phylogenetic analysis of ADS genes from various species revealed evolutionary conservation. Homology modeling method was used for prediction of the 3D structure of ADS3963 protein and Autodock 4.0 version was used to study the ligand binding. The predicted 3D model and docking studies may further be used in characterizing the protein in wet laboratory.
PMCID: PMC2951637  PMID: 20975893
Artemisia annua; artemisinin; ADS3963 gene; homology modeling; phylogenetic tree; docking
25.  Antimicrobial Activity of Artemisinin and Precursor Derived from In Vitro Plantlets of Artemisia annua L. 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:215872.
Artemisia annua L., a medicinal herb, produces secondary metabolites with antimicrobial property. In Malaysia due to the tropical hot climate, A. annua could not be planted for production of artemisinin, the main bioactive compound. In this study, the leaves of three in vitro A. annua L. clones were, extracted and two bioactive compounds, artemisinin and a precursor, were isolated by thin layer chromatography. These compounds were found to be effective in inhibiting the growth of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria but not Candida albicans. Their antimicrobial activity was similar to that of antibactericidal antibiotic streptomycin. They were found to inhibit the growth of the tested microbes at the minimum inhibition concentration of 0.09 mg/mL, and toxicity test using brine shrimp showed that even the low concentration of 0.09 mg/mL was very lethal towards the brine shrimps with 100% mortality rate. This study hence indicated that in vitro cultured plantlets of A. annua can be used as the alternative method for production of artemisinin and its precursor with antimicrobial activities.
PMCID: PMC3915762  PMID: 24575401

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