Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/30/2005
Publication Date: 9/17/2005
Citation: Ferreira, J.F., Wood, A.J., Dhingra, V. 2004. Biochemistry and genetics of Artemisia annua l. and the production of artemisinin. In: Genetic Resources and Biotechnology. Vol. II, pp. 269-280. Thangadurai, T. Pullaiah, P.A. Balatti (Eds.). Regency Publications, New Dehli, India.
Technical Abstract: With the promise of an affordable and effective vaccine against Plasmodium falciparum still unfulfilled, artemisinin is the only hope against multi-drug resistant malaria. This review discusses biochemical, classical and molecular genetic approaches that attempt to increase artemisinin biosynthesis in Artemisia annua. The literature reviewed shows that some of the artemisinin biosynthetic pathway is still based on speculation. Arteannuin B, artemisinic acid, and dihydroartemisinic acid are strongly postulated as immediate precursors of artemisinin, while amorpha 4,11-diene is accepted as an early precursor of artemisinin. Attempts to increase artemisinin by generating tetraploid plants and by over-expressing genes that control enzymes of the mevalonic acid pathway are presented and compared to conventional breeding, the latter based on selection of high yielding, late flowering, clones and the production of hybrids. These approaches are currently the possible alternatives to increase the production of artemisinin in A. annua, to achieve the cultivation of A. annua in the tropics, and to make artemisinin drugs as affordable as quinine derived drugs.