Aniszewski, Tadeusz .
Genetic Approach to Plant Alkaloids - Current Knowledge and Unexplored Realms.
THE gene is an unit of heredity information encoded in a discrete segment of a DNA molecule; it has an enormous capacity to transmit genetic information. A plant has 25500 genes, or only 64% of that of the human, but even 102% of the mouse, 134% of the nematode and 186% of the fly. Gene participation in plant metabolism is a very important basis for understanding the life nature of alkaloids. Genetic information connected with the metabolism of alkaloids indicates that these secondary compounds are more important to the life cycle of plants then those which are not coded in the genome. The inheritability of the morphine, codeine and thebaine content from parent plants of Papaver somniferum to the next generation is 21 – 36% and of narcotine only 10.5 – 14.5%. To date, more than 30 genes coding for enzymes involved in alkaloid biosynthesis pathways have been isolated and cloned in different laboratories around the world. Achievements in gene research appear in particular in the following genera: Atropa, Arabidopsis, Berberis, Catharanthus, Coptis, Coffea, Datura, Eschscholtzia, Hyoscyamus, Nicotiana, Papaver, Rauvolfia, Ruta, Senecio, Solanum and Thalictrum. The biological importance of alkaloids from these genera is connected with the structural, metabolic, functional and evolutionary role of these compounds in plants. The major challenge for the future is to isolate new genes and alkaloid enzymes. More genetic information on alkaloid genes and enzymes is needed in order to map metabolic networks in plants and to understand their evolution.
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1 - University of Joensuu, Department of Biology, Research and Teaching Laboratory of Applied Botany, Joensuu, 80101, Finland
Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Date: Tuesday, August 1st, 2006
Time: 2:00 PM