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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: CONSERVATION, CHARACTERIZATION, AND GENETIC IMPROVEMENT OF SUBTROPICAL AND TROPICAL ORNAMENTAL GERMPLASM Title: Can phylogeny predict chemical diversity and potential medicinal activity of plants? A case study of Amaryllidaceae

item Ronsted, Nina -
item Symonds, Matthew -
item Birkholm, Trine -
item Christensen, Soren Brogger -
item Meerow, Alan
item Molander, Marianne -
item Molgaard, Per -
item Petersen, Gitte -
item Rasmussen, Nina -
item Van Staden, Johannes -
item Stafford, Gary -
item Jager, Ann -

Submitted to: BMC Evolutionary Biology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 7, 2012
Publication Date: September 14, 2012
Citation: Ronsted, N., Symonds, M.R., Birkholm, T., Christensen, S., Meerow, A.W., Molander, M., Molgaard, P., Petersen, G., Rasmussen, N., Van Staden, J., Stafford, G.I., Jager, A.K. 2012. Can phylogeny predict chemical diversity and potential medicinal activity of plants? A case study of Amaryllidaceae. BMC Evolutionary Biology. 1471-2148/12/182.

Interpretive Summary: In this paper, we test the correlation of relationships among genera of the ornamental plant family Amaryllidaceae and biologically active secondary compounds as evidence of a predictive approach for selection of plants for medical discovery. Good correlation was found for alkaloid content and diversity and activity involving the inhibition of acetylcholinesterase (AChE).

Technical Abstract: During evolution, plants and other organisms have developed a diversity of chemical defences, leading to the evolution of various groups of specialized metabolites selected for their endogenous biological function. A correlation between phylogeny and biosynthetic pathways could offer a predictive approach enabling more efficient selection of plants for traditional medicine and lead discovery. However, this relationship has rarely been rigorously tested and the potential predictive power is consequently unknown. We produced a phylogenetic hypothesis for the medicinally important plant subfamily Amaryllidoideae (Amaryllidaceae) based on parsimony and Bayesian analysis of nuclear, plastid, and mitochondrial DNA sequences of over 100 species. We tested if alkaloid diversity and central nervous system related activities are significantly correlated with phylogeny. Several genera are non-monophyletic emphasizing the importance of using phylogeny for interpretation of character distribution. Alkaloid diversity and in vitro inhibition of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and binding to the serotonin reuptake transporter (SERT) are significantly correlated with phylogeny. This has implications for the use of phylogenies to interpret chemical evolution and biosynthetic pathways, to select candidate taxa for lead discovery, and to make recommendations for traditional use and conservation priorities.

Last Modified: 8/27/2016
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