Submitted to: HortScience
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/1/2000
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: Interpretive Summary: A survey of the natural range of mayapple, a plant native to the United States, was conducted in order to identify genotypes of potential use for agricultural production of podophyllotoxin. Analysis of the chemical content of 17 samples collected throughout the eastern and central US led to the identification of podophyllotoxin-rich plants, which are currently undergoing propagation and testing under various environmental conditions. Podophyllotoxin, a lignan that is used to synthesize anticancer drugs, was found in large quantities and high purity in extracts of the leaves of ten accessions of P. peltatum. Cultivated mayapple may thus become the preferred commercial source of podophyllotoxin.
Technical Abstract: A survey of the natural population of the American mayapple, Podophyllum peltatum L., was conducted in order to identify high-yielding genotypes and evaluate the potential of this species for podophyllotoxin production. Plants were collected from seventeen mayapple colonies found in sixteen localities of the eastern and central United States. The lignan content of leaves and rhizomes of the collected specimens was characterized by aqueous extraction followed by HPLC analysis. Total lignan content ranged from 28 to 65 mg/g, based on dry weight, and was not significantly different in leaves and rhizomes. Podophyllotoxin and a-peltatin appeared most prominently among the lignans obtained; smaller amounts of b-peltatin were also detected in most samples. Leaves were generally richer in podophyllotoxin than rhizomes. Several high-yielding accessions were identified, the leaves of which contained 4.0 to 5.6% podophyllotoxin. A strongly negative correlation was observed between podophyllotoxin and peltatin content in the leaves. The relative abundance of podophyllotoxin exceeded 90% in several leaf samples. The combination of high biosynthetic capacity and preferential accumulation of podophyllotoxin in leaves of mayapple makes this plant an excellent candidate for agricultural production of podophyllotoxin.