Submitted to: Journal of Herbs, Spices and Medicinal Plants
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/15/2002
Publication Date: 12/1/2003
Citation: Kirakosyan, A., Gibson, D.M., Sirvent, T. 2003. A comparative survey of hypericum perforatum plants as sources of hypericins and hyperforin. Journal of Herbs, Spices and Medicinal Plants. 10:73-88. Interpretive Summary: Hypericum perforatum L. (family Hypericaceae), commonly called St. John's wort, is considered to be an important dietary supplement, with worldwide sales of over $500 million. The bulk of St. John's wort is supplied from wild-harvested materials, generating growing concerns in terms of loss of biodiversity, variability in quality, and adulteration and contamination issues. Alternative ways for increasing yield of the active constituents, hypericins and hyperforin, with elite germplasm via field cultivation or plant cell biotechnology seem to be promising approaches. The aim of the present study was a detailed biochemical analysis of the active biological principles, hypericins and hyperforin, using genetically distinct populations of St. John's wort to identify superior plant germplasm sources. We also report on the production of hypericins and hyperforin in shoot cultures comparison to greenhouse-grown lines derived from these populations.
Technical Abstract: Over 16 genetically distinct populations of Hypericum perforatum from Armenia and U.S. were surveyed to identify superior plant germplasm as sources of the secondary metabolites, hypericin, pseudohypericin and hyperforin. Remarkably high concentrations (over 15 % of dry weight) of the antidepressive metabolite, hyperforin, was found in one H. perforatum population collected in Armenia, while North American samples and cultivar showed high levels of hypericins, up to 0.23% of dry weight. Results from in vitro studies indicated that several lines of shoot cultures are excellent sources for both hypericins and hyperforin. The production levels were increased for hypericins up to 6 fold (1.4% of dry weight), while the production of hyperforin was decreased compared to levels found in intact plants.