Title

Effects of High Light on Photosynthesis and Artemisinin Production for the Medicinal Plant, Artemisia annua.

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Location

SURC Ballroom A

Start Date

17-5-2012

End Date

17-5-2012

Abstract

Artemisia annua L., produces a secondary compound (artemisinin) that is currently one of the most effective drugs for combating malaria. Limitations in commercial production of artemisinin include the relatively low yield of the compound within the plant (usually 0.01-0.50% of the total dry weight) and the fact that, as yet, we do not understand the metabolic pathways that produce the compound well enough for artificial synthesis. High-yielding strains of A. annua have been produced using traditional breeding methods that yield up to 1.0% artemisinin (per total dry weight). Unfortunately, these strains are proprietary and not available to all farmers seeking to grow A. annua for Artemisnin production. We are working to determine the effect of high light and other environmental stresses such as drought and UV-B exposure on the production of artemisinin and photosynthetic productivity of low-yielding strains of A. annua. When plants are grown in moderate light (about ¼ full sunlight) and then treated with high light (full sunlight) for up to six hours, they experience some light-induced loss of photosynthetic efficiency, increased formation of compounds indicating oxidative stress (e.g. singlet oxygen, superoxide and hydrogen peroxide radicals) and increased in artemisinin production. This occurs without an appreciable loss to photosynthetic carbon assimilation indicating that treatment with high light prior to harvest may be an effective way to increase artemisinin production, even in non-proprietary, low-yielding strains of A. annua.

Poster Number

7

Faculty Mentor(s)

Mary Poulson

Additional Mentoring Department

Biological Sciences

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Effects of High Light on Photosynthesis and Artemisinin Production for the Medicinal Plant, Artemisia annua.

SURC Ballroom A

Artemisia annua L., produces a secondary compound (artemisinin) that is currently one of the most effective drugs for combating malaria. Limitations in commercial production of artemisinin include the relatively low yield of the compound within the plant (usually 0.01-0.50% of the total dry weight) and the fact that, as yet, we do not understand the metabolic pathways that produce the compound well enough for artificial synthesis. High-yielding strains of A. annua have been produced using traditional breeding methods that yield up to 1.0% artemisinin (per total dry weight). Unfortunately, these strains are proprietary and not available to all farmers seeking to grow A. annua for Artemisnin production. We are working to determine the effect of high light and other environmental stresses such as drought and UV-B exposure on the production of artemisinin and photosynthetic productivity of low-yielding strains of A. annua. When plants are grown in moderate light (about ¼ full sunlight) and then treated with high light (full sunlight) for up to six hours, they experience some light-induced loss of photosynthetic efficiency, increased formation of compounds indicating oxidative stress (e.g. singlet oxygen, superoxide and hydrogen peroxide radicals) and increased in artemisinin production. This occurs without an appreciable loss to photosynthetic carbon assimilation indicating that treatment with high light prior to harvest may be an effective way to increase artemisinin production, even in non-proprietary, low-yielding strains of A. annua.