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Boosting the Production of Bioactive Compounds: Biotechnology and Metabolic Engineering of Medicinal Plants

A special issue of International Journal of Molecular Sciences (ISSN 1422-0067). This special issue belongs to the section "Molecular Plant Sciences".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 June 2024 | Viewed by 659

Special Issue Editors

Department of Molecular Biotechnology and Genetics, Faculty of Biology and Environmental Protection, University of Lodz, 90-237 Lodz, Poland
Interests: molecular biotechnology; recombinant proteins; biopharmaceuticals; genetic engineering; medicinal plants
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Department of Biology and Pharmaceutical Botany, Medical University of Lodz, 90-151 Lodz, Poland
Interests: natural compounds; phytochemistry; plant in vitro culture; polyphenols; methods of determination of antioxidant activity; phytotherapy
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The perception and exploration of plants has changed significantly as a result of exceptional advances in biotechnology. Plant material has long been applied for various industrial purposes; however, its role in treating human health problems cannot be overestimated.

Plant-derived bioactive compounds display numerous therapeutic properties, including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticancer, antibacterial, hepato- or neuroprotective effects. Many of them gave rise to current, effective pharmacological treatments. Yet medicinal plants provide minute amounts of bioactives in their natural process, and their chemical synthesis at an industrial level is quite challenging due to their complex chemical structure. These constraints set the limits for meeting market demands that are continuously growing. Hence, there is a great need for increasing natural biosynthetic rates for bioactive compounds.

To eliminate this bottleneck in bioactive compound production, two types of approaches can be considered: increasing the synthesis level through plant tissue culture-based biotechnology, or exploiting the methods of metabolic engineering that alter metabolic pathways behind a desired compound synthesis and accumulation.

The objective of this Special Issue is to present the current knowledge and trends in scaling up the synthesis of bioactive substances, based on the aforementioned approaches. Research on the optimization of tissue culture conditions by physical factors or growth medium components, endogenous and exogenous enzyme and/or transcription factor overexpression, is especially—but not exclusively—welcome.

Importantly: (1) Manuscripts must report on the exact active ingredient or defined extract (papers describing the effects of mixed extraction of unknown composition will not be considered for publication); (2) the manuscripts covering attempts to increase the level of bioactives in tissue and organ culture by various factors must present at least the theoretical background of the molecular mechanism responsible for the production boosting.

We are looking forward to receiving your papers.

Dr. Katarzyna Hnatuszko-Konka
Dr. Izabela Grzegorczyk-Karolak
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Molecular Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. There is an Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal. For details about the APC please see here. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • bioactive compounds
  • plant tissue culture
  • elicitors
  • metabolic engineering
  • gene expression
  • medicinal plants
  • metabolic pathway
  • plant biotechnology

Published Papers (1 paper)

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14 pages, 2073 KiB  
Accumulation of Polyphenols and Associated Gene Expression in Hairy Roots of Salvia viridis Exposed to Methyl Jasmonate
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2024, 25(2), 764; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms25020764 - 07 Jan 2024
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Methyl jasmonate (MJA), a signaling molecule in stress pathways, can be used to induce secondary metabolite synthesis in plants. The present study examines its effects on the growth of Salvia viridis hairy roots, and the accumulation of bioactive compounds, and correlates it with [...] Read more.
Methyl jasmonate (MJA), a signaling molecule in stress pathways, can be used to induce secondary metabolite synthesis in plants. The present study examines its effects on the growth of Salvia viridis hairy roots, and the accumulation of bioactive compounds, and correlates it with the expression of genes involved in the phenylpropanoid pathway. To our knowledge, this study represents the first exploration of elicitation in S. viridis culture and the first comprehensive analysis of MJA’s influence on such a wide array of genes within the polyphenol metabolic pathway in the Salvia genus. Plants were treated with 50 and 100 µM MJA, and samples were collected at intervals of one, three, five, and seven days post-elicitation. HPLC analysis revealed that MJA stimulated the accumulation of all tested compounds, with a 30% increase (38.65 mg/g dry weight) in total polyphenol content (TPC) on day five. Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis demonstrated a significant increase in the expression of the phenylpropanoid pathway genes—TAT (tyrosine aminotransferase), HPPR (4-hydroxyphenylpyruvate reductase), PAL (phenylalanine ammonia-lyase), C4H (cinnamic acid 4-hydroxylase), 4CL (4-coumarate-CoA ligase), and RAS (rosmarinic acid synthase)—following MJA treatment. For the majority of the genes, this increase was observed after the first day of treatment. Importantly, our present results confirm strong correlations of the analyzed gene expression with polyphenol biosynthesis. These findings support the notion that hairy roots provide a promising biotechnological framework for augmenting polyphenol production. Additionally, the combination of elicitor treatment and transgenic technology emerges as a viable strategy to enhance the biosynthesis of these valuable metabolites. Full article
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